US President Donald Trump has blamed “many sides” for the violent clashes between protesters and white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, that’s left three people dead and 35 injured.
James Alex Fields, a 20-year-old man from Virginia, has been arrested and is accused of driving his car into a crowd of people who were peacefully protesting against a white nationalist rally.
The controversial “Unite the Right” march was organised to protest the removal of a statue honouring General Robert E Lee, commander of the Confederate Army in the 19th-century American Civil War.
A 32-year-old woman has been confirmed dead, while the details of the other fatalities are yet to be released.
The car attack occurred around 1pm on Saturday, soon after a state of emergency was declared in the city.
— Adam Greenberg (@pragmactivist) August 13, 2017
In reaction to the news, Trump has stated the “hatred and bigotry” broadcast across the country had taken root long before he become president.
On a working holiday at his New Jersey golf club, Trump had intended to speak briefly at a ceremony marking the signing of bipartisan legislation to aid veterans, but he quickly found that those plans were overtaken by the escalating violence in the Virginia college town.
He told reporters that he had just spoken to Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe and “we 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”.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides.
“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,” he said.
However, Charlottesville Mayor, Michael Signer, said he was disgusted that the white nationalists had come to his town and blamed Trump for inflaming racial prejudices with his campaign last year.
“I’m not going to make any bones about it. I place the blame for a lot of what you’re seeing in American today right at the doorstep of the White House and the people around the president,” he said.
Many prominent past and present US politicians, from both sides of politics, have also spoken out against Trump’s comments on Twitter.
Mr. President – we must call evil by its name. These were white supremacists and this was domestic terrorism. https://t.co/PaPNiPPAoW
— Cory Gardner (@SenCoryGardner) August 12, 2017
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) August 12, 2017
.@POTUS needs to speak out against the poisonous resurgence of white supremacy. There are not “many sides” here, just right and wrong.
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) August 12, 2017
Even as we protect free speech and assembly, we must condemn hatred, violence and white supremacy. #Charlottesville
— Bill Clinton (@billclinton) August 12, 2017
The violence, chaos, and apparent loss of life in Charlottesville is not the fault of “many sides.” It is racists and white supremacists.
— Mark Herring (@MarkHerringVA) August 12, 2017