'I condemn all types of racism': Trump calls for peace on Charlottesville anniversary
By CHRISTAL HAYES | USA Today | Published: August 11, 2018
(Tribune News Service) — President Donald Trump acknowledged the grim anniversary of a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that turned deadly last year – and is regarded as one of the worst weeks in his presidency.
"The riots in Charlottesville a year ago resulted in senseless death and division," Trump posted on Twitter Saturday morning. "We must come together as a nation. I condemn all types of racism and acts of violence. Peace to ALL Americans!"
The remarks swayed heavily from his comments after last year's "Unite the Right" rally in the city, which led to violence and several deaths, when Neo-Nazi sympathizers and counterprotesters clashed during protests.
Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old legal assistant, was struck and killed when a white supremacist slammed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters. And two Virginia state troopers died when their surveillance helicopter crashed near the protests.
At that time, Trump argued there was blame on both sides and equated the actions of white nationalists, who carried Nazi flags and chanted "Jews will not replace us," to that of counterprotesters.
"You had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides," Trump said.
He continued: "What about the 'alt-left' that came charging at, as you say, the 'alt-right,' do they have any semblance of guilt?," he said. "What about the fact they came charging with clubs in hands, swinging clubs, do they have any problem? I think they do."
Trump's comments were met with a firestorm of criticism on "both sides" of the aisle. He tried to clarify his comments later, specifically calling out Neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan in a prepared statement.
Later, he again blamed "both sides." The back and forth comments and criticism that followed led to what is regarded as one of the worst weeks for Trump since he took office.
This weekend white nationalists are again planning to rally – this year outside the president's home in Washington, D.C.
The "Unite the Right" rally is scheduled for Sunday in Lafayette Park, just across from the White House. A large counterprotest is also scheduled.
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The riots in Charlottesville a year ago resulted in senseless death and division. We must come together as a nation. I condemn all types of racism and acts of violence. Peace to ALL Americans!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 11, 2018