NEW YORK — President Donald Trump says the groups protesting against white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, were “also very violent.”
Trump is calling those protesters the “alt-left.” He says there is “blame on both sides” after the deadly violence over the weekend.
After his initial statement on the Charlottesville violence, Trump was criticized for appearing to condemn both the white nationalists and those who were protesting them. He tried to clean up his remarks Monday, declaring “racism is evil”.
In a hastily arranged statement at the White House, Trump branded members of the KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacists who take part in violence as “criminals and thugs.”
The groups are “repugnant to everything that we hold dear as Americans,” he said.
Trump says some of the facts about the deadly violence in Charlottesville still aren’t known.
His initial statement was met with widespread bipartisan criticism.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides,” Trump said during a short statement from his private golf club in New Jersey.
The President did not mention white nationalists and the alt-right movement in his remarks, and later called for a “study” of the “situation.”
Demonstrators clashed on the streets of Charlottesville on Saturday morning ahead of a white nationalist rally, with counter-protesters and right-wing nationalist groups converging on the college town in the latest chapter in the United States’ debate over race and identity.
The protests were precipitated by the city’s government deciding to remove symbols of its confederate past, including a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
A group of anti-white supremacy protesters tore down a Confederate monument Monday during a rally outside a North Carolina courthouse.
Their actions were not sanctioned, but the deadly clash in Charlottesville has led to an accelerated removal of Confederate statues nationwide.
“We should not glorify a part of our history in front of our buildings that really is a testament to America’s original sin,” Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe said after a statue of a Confederate soldier was taken down Monday.
Trump addressed the issue of statues on Tuesday.
“This week, it’s Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson Jackson is coming down,” Trump said. “Is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You really have to ask yourself, where does it stop?”