Charlottesville is home to the University of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson’s mountain-top plantation, Monticello, and President James Monroe’s home, Highland. The city is a gateway to Shenandoah National Park, along a section of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The local government’s decision to remove monuments commemorating Confederate leaders who fought in the US civil war to defend slavery provoked such strong opposition among far-right groups that they called for a protest rally.
The ensuing event became a flashpoint for far-right violence and intimidation but the President of the United States said little more than that it is not his fault.
After the group of white supremacists — screaming racial, ethnic and misogynistic epithets — rallied in Charlottesville, on Saturday, one person was killed and 19 others were injured when a car sped into a group of counter-protesters.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides,” said President Donald Trump. “On many sides. It’s been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. This has been going on for a long, long time.”
In other words, this is bad and there is blame enough for everyone except the president.
His refusal to decry the racism and tepid denouncement of the violence left Trump under fire even from members of his own Republican Party for failing to fully condemn the white supremacists.
“Mr President – we must call evil by its name,” said Republican Senator Cory Gardner, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. “These were white supremacists and this was domestic terrorism.”
Trump instead indicate the faults of violence “on many sides” after clashes between racist protesters and counter-demonstrators in the city left one woman dead and 19 injured. Trump has been coy to condemn Nazi protesters directly and in his campaign, he even offered to pay the legal expenses of anyone sued by assault victims.
Heather Heyer, 32, was killed after a far right activist allegedly drove a car into a group of counter-protesters. Pictures from the scene show the force of the crash throwing people into the air. Two police officers also died when their helicopter, which was monitoring the march, crashed.
Friends and co-workers described Heyer as a passionate advocate for the disenfranchised who was often moved to tears by the world’s injustices.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe had harsh words for the white supremacists “Let’s be honest, they need to leave America, because they are not Americans,”
The head of a giant pharmaceuticals company quit President Donald Trump’s council on manufacturing to protest the White House’s continued silence on white supremacist groups that incited the deadly violence.
Merck CEO Ken Frazier said in a statement he was stepping down “as a matter of personal conscience” and “to take a stand against intolerance and extremism.”
Even German Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned far-right white supremacist violence.
“The scenes at the right-wing extremist march were absolutely repulsive – naked racism, antisemitism and hate in their most evil form were on display,” said Merkel. “Such images and chants are disgusting wherever they may be and they are diametrically opposed to the political goals of the Chancellor and the entire German government.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions vigorously defended Trump’s muted response to the bloody enevt in Charlottesville, Virgina, saying the President “clearly” denounced such violence and that “he totally opposes” the values of white supremacist groups.
After Trump received backlash for what critics viewed as equivocal comments on Saturday regarding the white nationalist protest, the White House on Sunday released another statement insisting that Trump “condemns all forms of violence, bigotry and hatred and of course that includes white Supremacists, KKK, neo-nazi and all extremist groups.”
Sessions was denied US Senate confirmation to a federal judgeship more than 30 years ago due to allegations that he engaged in racial discrimination, and since joining Trump’s cabinet he has moved to increase the disproportionate incarceration of black citizens and backed off on efforts to counter historic disadvantages imposed on women and minority groups.
One of the white supremacists drove a car into a crowd of peaceful protesters that directly killed one person and cost the lives of two state troopers assigned to the governor’s travel detail when they were killed in a helicopter crash.
McAuliffe denounced the people who had come to this college town for a “Unite the Right” rally, saying they weren’t the patriots they make themselves out to be. “They get out of bed every day to hate people and divide our country,” McAuliffe said.
The group behind the march, described itself as “independent organization dedicated to the heritage, identity, and future of people of European descent in the United States.”
James Fields, 20, the alleged driver of that car with Ohio license plates that plowed into a crowd of counter-protesters, has been charged with second-degree murder. Fields was photographed with a neo-Nazi group before violence broke out at Saturday’s rally.
In 2013, Rachel Maddow exposed the National Policy Institute’s ties to one of the authors of Jim DeMint’s Heritage Foundation’s false report that dishonestly states immigration reform will cost America $6.3 trillion dollars.
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