'Racism is evil': Trump denounces KKK and neo-Nazis
US President Donald Trump has denounced white supremacists, neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) as un-American and promised swift justice against those responsible for the death of a counter-protester in Charlottesville, Virginia.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence. It has no place in America,” Trump said on Monday at the White House.
“Racism is evil, and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans,” the president added.
America is based on the idea that all people are created equal, under law and under the Constitution, Trump said, and “those who spread violence in the name of bigotry strike at the very core of America.”
“In times like these, America has always shown its true character, responding to hate with love, division with unity, and violence with an unwavering resolve for justice,” Trump said.
The president expressed condolences to the family of Heather Heyer, the 32-year-old paralegal who died when a car ran into the crowd of protesters in Charlottesville, as well as two Virginia state troopers whose helicopter crashed while they were monitoring the events in the city.
A state of emergency was declared in Charlottesville over the weekend, as counter-protesters clashed with attendees of the “Unite the Right” rally, many of whom carried flags and symbols belonging to neo-Nazi, Ku Klux Klan and white nationalist groups.
On Saturday, before the incident in which Heyer died, Trump had denounced the clashes between the marchers and counter-protesters as “terrible events” and condemned “in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides,” saying “it has no place in America.”
This prompted outrage from the president’s critics, who argued that “many sides” amounted to false moral equivalence between the two groups that came to blows, and demanded that Trump specifically denounce the neo-Nazis, KKK and “white supremacists.”