Celebrities and politicians are speaking out against President Donald Trump‘s confusing comments after a rally organized by the alt-right and white nationalists in Charlottesville, Virginia, left threee dead and dozens injured.
On Saturday, a pre-planned “Unite the Right” rally erupted into violence as the white supremacist protesters clashed with counter-protesters who were demonstrating against the event. After Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency and canceled the rally, a 20-year-old man identified as James Alex Fields Jr. allegedly intentionally drove his car into a group of counter-protesters, killing one 32-year-old woman and injuring at least 19 people. He is being held for second-degree murder, malicious wounding and failure to stop in an accident that resulted in death.
Virginia State Police also confirmed that two state troopers were killed in a helicopter crash that was related to the rally.
During a Saturday press event in Bedminster, New Jersey, for an unrelated bill signing, Trump spoke out against the violence but did not explicitly lay blame on the white supremacists, instead insisting that “bigotry and hatred” was coming from “many sides.”
“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 very long time.
“It has no place in America,” Trump continued. “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,” he added, apparently referring to the white nationalist rally and counter-protests.
“The hate and division must stop and it must stop right now,” he said.
Celebrities and politicians were quick to note Trump’s lack of mentioning white supremacists’ involvement in the rally. “Very important for the nation to hear @potus describe events in #Charlottesville for what they are, a terror attack by #whitesupremacists,” Sen. Marco Rubio, a former Trump rival, tweeted on Saturday.
“There is only one side #charlottesville,” former vice president Joe Biden tweeted after Trump’s speech. “Racism and hate have no place here,” he tweeted earlier.
Even former White House Communications Director and vocal Trump supporter Anthony Scaramucci said that the president’s statement didn’t go far enough to condemn white nationalists.
“I wouldn’t have recommended that statement,” he said in a Sunday appearance on This Week. “I think he needed to be much harsher as it related to the white supremacists and the nature of that. It’s actually terrorism and whether it’s domestic or international terrorism, with the moral authority of the presidency, you have to call that stuff out.”
Celebrities like Zendaya and Billy Eichner also took to social media to condemn the attacks.
Hey @realdonaldtrump? Listen to this man& CALL THEM NAZIS bc they are. CALL THEM WHITE SUPREMACISTS bc they are. Maybe take a look at why an emboldened portion of your base are NAZIS AND WHITE SUPREMACISTS. And you know, just to cover your bases, call yourself the very worst president we have ever had, and "frankly" a terrible terrible human being.
After his speech, Trump tweeted out his condolences to the family of the woman who was killed and sent his “best regards” to those who were injured, adding that it was “so sad.”
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On Sunday, First Daughter Ivanka Trump — who is Jewish — condemned the attacks and explicitly called out white supremacists and neo-Nazis.
“There should be no place in society for racism, white supremacy and neo-Nazis,” she wrote. “We must all come together as Americans — and be one country UNITED #Charlottesville.”
On Sunday evening, Vice President Mike Pence also called out neo-Nazis and white supremacists as “dangerous fringe groups” while condemning the violence in a press conference.
Some white nationalists praised Trump’s controversial response, with one neo-Nazi website declaring the rally a “victory” and praising that Trump had no specific condemnation of their groups.
“Trump’s comments are good,” the site wrote. “He didn’t attack us. He just said the nation should come together. Nothing specific against us […] also refused to answer a question about white nationalists supporting him. No condemnation at all. When asked to condemn he just walked out of the room. Really, really good. God bless him.”
As of Sunday evening, Trump had still not explicitly condemned the white nationalists and Neo-Nazis who organized the rally that resulted in dozens of injuries and three deaths.
Meanwhile, Gov. McAuliffe is being praised for his speech following the violence, in which he condemned the white nationalists and Neo Nazis who took part in the march.
“I have a message to all the white supremacists and the Nazis who came into Charlottesville today. Our message is plain and simple. Go home,” McAuliffe said. “You are not wanted in this great commonwealth.
“You came here today to hurt people, and you did hurt people,” the governor said. “But my message is clear. We are stronger than you. You have made our commonwealth stronger. You will not succeed.
“There is no place for you here, there is no place for you in America.”