Donald Trump was widely criticised for at first blaming the violence in Charlottesville on “many sides”.
But the US president has succumbed to pressure, taking a stronger stance against right-wing extremists.
“Racism is evil and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans. We are a nation founded on the truth that all of us are created equal. We are equal in the eyes of our creator. We are equal under the law.”
Tensions remain high in Charlottesville following the seemingly deliberate and deadly car attack that killed one, and injured 19.
The car’s driver, James Alex Fields Junior, has been charged with second-degree murder.
Appearing in court via video link, the 20-year-old was denied a bond, and granted legal aid.
Outside, two white nationalists, who refused to give their names, angrily blamed police for the violence.
“We had a permit for this event and had every right to be here. The police department did absolutely nothing to enforce a legal permit. We defended ourselves. We brought helmets and shields, while the enemy brought improvised flamethrowers, while they brought bleach, while they brought paint, while they brought sticks and they brought knives. The nationalist community defended ourselves against thugs in a battle that was brought by this city, that wanted a bloodbath.”
Those comments caused tensions to flare up again.
Charlottesville Police Chief, Al Thomas, says the nationalist group ignored the police’s safety plan.
“We had a plan to bring them in at the rear of the park. They had agreed to cooperate with the plan. Unfortunately they did not follow the plan. They began entering at different locations, in and around the park, and we had to quickly alter our plans to facilitate that process. We were hoping for a peaceful event. We had asked leaders from both sides to engage in a non-violent demonstration.”
The US national security adviser has labelled the car attack “domestic terrorism”.
The United Nations has also weighed in.
Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for the secretary general, reinforced the UN’s stance against racism and bigotry.
“We believe that there must be no place in our societies for the violent racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia and discrimination that we’ve seen in Charlottesville, Virginia, that we’ve seen in recent days. Obviously we condemn any of the violence that affected the civilians and we express our condolences to the family and loved ones of the victims and wish a speedy recovery to all those who were injured.”
Heather Heyer was killed as she delivered a speech against the white nationalists.
Two state troopers monitoring from the sky were also killed when their helicopter crashed.
Police Chief Thomas offered an honest response when asked if he had any regrets about how the rallies were handled.
“I certainly have regrets. We lost three lives this weekend. A local citizen and two fellow officers. We certainly have regrets. It was a tragic, tragic, weekend.”