15 Aug 2017

Trump condemns 'evil racism' in Charlottesville

6:33 am on 15 August 2017

US President Donald Trump has spoken out against racist violence after the killing of a protester in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday.

US President Donald Trump

US President Donald Trump came under fire for not specifically denouncing extremists in his initial comments on the violence. Photo: AFP

"Racism is evil and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs," he told reporters.

He said the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and white supremacists were "repugnant" to everything Americans held dear.

Mr Trump was criticised for not specifically denouncing extremists in his initial comments on the violence.

Heather Heyer, 32, died and 19 others were hurt when a car rammed into people protesting against a far-right march.

James Alex Fields, 20, was formally charged on Monday with second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding and one count of hit and run. He was also denied bail during his appearance in court via video from jail.

He is said to have harboured Nazi sympathies.

The justice department is opening a civil rights investigation into the incident.

Heather Heyer was killed when a group of counter-protesters were rammed by a car.

Heather Heyer was killed when a group of counter-protesters was rammed by a car. Photo: AFP

'Egregious display'

On Monday, Mr Trump arrived back at the White House to issue a comprehensive condemnation.

"We condemn this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence," he said. "It has no place in America."

"Those who spread violence in the name of bigotry strike at the very core of America."

He paid tribute to Ms Heyer as well as two police officers killed in a helicopter crash after helping to tackle the unrest.

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White nationalists, neo-Nazis and members of the "alt-right" exchange volleys of pepper spray with counter-protesters. Photo: AFP

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said earlier that the deadly violence in Charlottesville met "the definition of domestic terrorism".

Hundreds of white nationalists had convened in Charlottesville to protest against the removal of a statue of a general who had fought for the pro-slavery Confederacy during the US Civil War.

They were challenged by anti-fascist and counter-protesters and the rally erupted into violent clashes. Shortly afterwards, Ms Heyer and several others who were leaving the area were struck by the car.

Protests and vigils in solidarity with the victims were held in many US cities on Sunday. In Seattle, police used pepper spray to stop protesters approaching a pro-Trump rally.

Among those to criticise Mr Trump was Ken Frazier, chief executive of drugs giant Merck, who announced on Monday he would resign from the president's American Manufacturing Council.

Mr Frazier, who is African American, tweeted that he had "a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism".

- BBC

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