President Donald Trump specifically condemned the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis, and white supremacists as “criminals and thugs” who “are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans,” in a statement Monday addressing the violence that took place at the Charlottesville, Virginia, rally on Saturday.
Trump came under intense fire for initially choosing not to single out the three groups by name in his initial Saturday statement responding to the violent clashes, which left one woman dead and 20 other people injured. Although the president repudiated “in the strongest possible terms” the “egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence” on Saturday, his omission of the specific groups drew attack lines from his critics.
Without mincing words, the president delivered a harsh statement that could leave no further doubt in Americans’ minds that Trump renounced the “racist violence” that took place in Charlottesville.
“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,” Trump said. “We are a nation founded on the truth that all of us are created equally. We are equal in the eyes of our Creator. We are equal under the law. And we are equal under our Constitution.”
“Those who spread violence in the name of bigotry strike at the very core of America,” he continued. “In times such as these, America has always shown its true character, responding to hate with love, division with unity, and violence with an unwavering resolve for justice.”
Although Trump called out the three groups for their racial hatred and inexcusable violence, the president also left no doubt that he frowns upon all the violent and hate-filled groups that participated in the Charlottesville chaos, whether they originated from the Left or from the Right.
“To anyone who acted criminally in this weekend’s racist violence, you will be held fully accountable,” Trump said. “Justice will be delivered. As I said on Saturday, we condemn in the strongest possible terms: this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence — it has no place in America.”
“And as I have said many times before — no matter the color of our skin, we all live under the same laws, we all salute the same great flag, and we are all made by the same Almighty God,” the president added. “We must love each other, show affection for each other, and unite together in condemnation of hatred, bigotry and violence.”
Noting that he had just met with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director Christopher Wray, Trump praised the Department of Justice for opening “an investigation into the deadly car attack that killed one innocent American and wounded 20 others,” which many have argued fits the definition of domestic terrorism.
“As a candidate, I promised to restore law and order to our country, and our federal law enforcement agencies are following through on that pledge,” he said. “We will spare no resources in fighting so that every American child can grow up free from violence and fear. We will defend and protect the sacred rights of all Americans, and we will work together so that every citizen in this blessed land is free to follow their dreams in their hearts and to express the love and joy in their souls.”