President Donald Trump condemned “in the strongest possible terms” the “egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence” that took place Saturday at the white nationalist “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Speaking at a press conference in Bedminster, New Jersey, the president rejected the violence and animosity, which “has no place in America.” as he called for the restoration of law and order. At least one person was killed and 19 others were injured when a car plowed through protesters and counterprotesters in Charlottesville. Fistfights and other forms of violence broke out throughout the day as well, while Virginia was declared to be in a state of emergency.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides,” Trump said. “It’s been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. It’s been going on for a long, long time. It has no place in America. What is vital now is a swift restoration of law and order and the protection of innocent lives.”
Noting that he had spoken on the phone with Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) earlier in the day, Trump said he pledged to provide “whatever other assistance is needed” as the National Guard and federal authorities continue to supply aid to contain the violence. Trump said that both he and McAuliffe agreed “that the hate and the division must stop and must stop right now.”
“We have to come together as Americans with love for our nation … and true affection for each other,” he said. “We have so many incredible things happening in our country. So when I watch Charlottesville, to me it’s very, very sad.”
After thanking the state and local police in Virginia for their hard work and dedication, the president pleaded with the protesters and counter protesters alike to learn how to respect and love one another.
“Above all else, we must remember this truth: No matter our color, creed, religion, or political party, we are all Americans first. We love our country. We love our God. We love our flag. We’re proud of our country. We’re proud of who we are,” Trump said. “So we want to get the situation straightened out in Charlottesville, and we want to study it, and we want to see what we’re doing wrong as a country, where things like this can happen.”
“My administration is restoring the sacred bonds of loyalty between this nation and its citizens. But our citizens must also restore the bonds of trust and loyalty between one another,” he added. “We must love each other, respect each other, and cherish our history and our future together … We have to respect each other. Ideally, we have to love each other.”
Earlier in the day, Trump took to Twitter to comment on the Charlottesville violence, saying, “We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!”
First lady Melania Trump also took to Twitter to condemn violence, saying, “Our country encourages freedom of speech, but let’s communicate w/o hate in our hearts. No good comes from violence. #Charlottesville.”
Other Republican leaders strongly condemned the violence and hatred evidenced in Charlottesville.
“The views fueling the spectacle in Charlottesville are repugnant. Let it only serve to unite Americans against this kind of vile bigotry,” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) tweeted.
“The hate & bigotry on display in #charlottesville is dangerous & cowardly,” Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel tweeted, adding, “Hatred will not define our country. We pray for the tragic loss of life and all the victims in $Charlottesville.”
(photo credit, homepage and article images: The White House, YouTube)