- REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
President Donald Trump denounced the violent clashes between white nationalists and counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia on Saturday.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides,” Trump said at a press conference. “On many sides.”
He added: “It’s been going on for a long, long time in our country. Not Donald Trump. Not Barack Obama. It’s been going on for a long, long time.”
The demonstrations turned deadly when a car plowed through a crowd of counter-protesters, resulting in multiple injuries and at least one death.
Trump said that he had spoken to Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, and that they “agreed that the hate and the division must stop and must stop right now.”
The president then went on to talk about how the US is “doing very well in so many ways,” and touted the recent jobs and unemployment numbers.
“We’re renegotiating trade deals to make them great for our country and great for the American workers,” he said. “We have so many incredible things happening, so when I watch Charlottesville, to me, it’s very, very sad.”
He rounded out the statement by saying that “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.”
“So we want to get this 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 these kinds of things can happen,” he said.
Trump, who campaigned on using the term “radical Islamic terrorism” to refer to jihadist attacks, did not address the white nationalist rally that sparked the outbreaks in his statement on Saturday.
The protests accompanied a “Unite the Right” rally that was called by white nationalists in response to a plan to remove a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee from a park in Charlottesville, Virginia.
One of the counter-protesters who was hit by the car described the scene to a reporter shortly after. “There were just a few cars that counter-protesters were blocking,” the man said.
He then said that the driver of the car was “honking their horn” and then “they were just, like, bulldozing through people.”
Another witness had two friends who were hit by the car and had to take them to the hospital. The witness described the incident as “absolutely intentional.”
“A packed street and a car comes speeding down, at least 40 mph and rams into everyone, backs up and does it again,” they said in a text message to Outline staff writer William Turton.
“I am furious & heartsick by the car crash that has injured many,” Signer tweeted. “Please all-go home to your families. We can work tomorrow. GO HOME! PLEASE!”