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Trump blames 'many sides' for violent Virginia clashes

August 12, 2017 10:00 PM
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BEDMINISTER, N.J. -- U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday blamed "many sides" for the violent clashes between protesters and white supremacists in Virginia and contended that the "hatred and bigotry" broadcast across the country had taken root long before his political ascendancy.

That was not how the Charlottesville mayor assessed the chaos that led the governor to declare a state of emergency, contending that Trump's campaign fed the flames of prejudice.

Trump, on a working vacation at his New Jersey golf club, 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 Gov. Terry McAuliffe, D-Va., 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."

The president said that "what is vital now is a swift restoration of law and order and the protection of innocent lives."

White nationalists had assembled in Charlottesville to vent their frustration against the city's plans to take down a statue of Confederal Gen. Robert E. Lee. Counter-protesters massed in opposition.

A few hours after violent encounters between the two groups, a car drove into a crowd of people peacefully protesting the rally. One person died and at least 26 were sent to hospitals.

"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," he said.

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.

Disturbances began Friday night during a march through the University of Virginia before escalating Saturday.

The White House was silent for hours except for a tweet from first lady Melania Trump: "Our country encourages freedom of speech, but let's communicate w/o hate in our hearts."

Trump later tweeted: "We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for." He also said "there is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!"

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., took to Twitter to denounce the scene.

"The views fueling the spectacle in Charlottesville are repugnant. Let it only serve to unite Americans against this kind of vile bigotry," he said.

In his remarks, Trump mentioned the strong economy and "the many incredible things in our country, so when I watch Charlottesville, to me it's very, very said."

Well, thank you very much. As you know, this was a small press conference but a very important one, and it was scheduled to talk about the great things that we're doing with the Secretary on the Veterans Administration. And we will talk about that very much so in a little while, but I thought I should put out a comment as to what's going on in Charlottesville.

So, again, I want to thank everybody for being here. In particular, I want to thank our incredible veterans. And thank you, fellas. Let me shake your hand. Great people. They're great people.

But we're closely following the terrible events unfolding in Charlottesville, Virginia. 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. This has 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. No citizen should ever fear for their safety and security in our society, and no child should ever be afraid to go outside and play, or be with their parents, and have a good time.

I just got off the phone with the Governor of Virginia, 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 -- really -- and I say this so strongly -- true affection for each other.

Our country is doing very well in so many ways. We have record -- just absolute record employment. We have unemployment, the lowest it's been in almost 17 years. We have companies pouring into our country. Foxconn and car companies, and so many others, they're coming back to our country. We're renegotiating trade deals to make them great for our country and great for the American worker. We have so many incredible things happening in our country. So when I watch Charlottesville, to me it's very, very sad.

I want to salute the great work of the state and local police in Virginia -- incredible people -- law enforcement, incredible people -- and also the National Guard. They've really been working smart and working hard. They've been doing a terrific job. The federal authorities are also providing tremendous support to the governor. He thanked me for that. And we are here to provide whatever other assistance is needed. We are ready, willing, and able.

Above all else, we must remember this truth: No matter our colour, 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 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. We must love each other, respect each other, and cherish our history and our future together. So important. We have to respect each other. Ideally, we have to love each other.

And again, going back to Charlottesville, we have to heal the wounds of our country. These are wounds that have been going on for, really, a long time. And I thought, and everybody thought, and everybody wants it to heal, and it will heal. And we're going to make every effort possible to make sure that that healing procedure goes as quickly as possible.

I love the people of our country. I love all of the people of our country. We're going to make America great again, but we're going to make it great for all of the people of the United States of America.

Source: ctvnews.ca

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