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Trump maintains there was ‘blame on both sides’ at Charlottesville rally

Tuesday - 15/08/2017 18:16
A FIERY Donald Trump has stood up for people who protested in a racially charged rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, renewing his assertion that there was “blame on both sides”.
US President Donald Trump speaks to the press about protests in Charlottesville in the lobby at Trump Tower in New York. Picture: AFP/Jim Watson
US President Donald Trump speaks to the press about protests in Charlottesville in the lobby at Trump Tower in New York. Picture: AFP/Jim Watson

Speaking to reporters Tuesday afternoon inside Trump Tower, New York, the US President was clearly aggrieved at the strong criticism he received for not denouncing fast enough the white supremacists, Neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan members who attended the weekend rally that turned deadly.

Mr Trump said the media had been unfair in blaming only the demonstrators on the Right — who were there to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate general Robert E Lee.

President Donald Trump pauses as he answers questions from members of the media in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York. Picture: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
President Donald Trump pauses as he answers questions from members of the media in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York. Picture: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez MonsivaisSource:AP

“What about the alt-left that came charging at the alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt?” Mr Trump asked.

“What about the fact that they came charging with clubs in their hands, swinging clubs — do they have any problem? I think they do.

“As far as I’m concerned, that was a horrible, horrible day … you had a group on one side that was bad, and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent — and nobody wants to say that, but I’ll say it now.

“You had a group on the other side that came charging in without a permit and they were very, very violent.”

He later echoed the comment that landed him in hot water during his first response to the violence.

“I think there’s blame on both sides, and I have no doubt about it,” the President said.

Mr Trump said there were “very fine people” on both sides of the protests.

Donald Trump in an unusually fiery press conference. Picture: Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP
Donald Trump in an unusually fiery press conference. Picture: Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFPSource:AFP

Members of the white nationalist movement — including leader Richard Spencer — have also blamed the Left, especially the anti-fascist movement Antifa, for sparking the violence.

Mr Trump agreed that there were armed “troublemakers” and “a lot of bad people” on the Left side of the protest.

A 32-year-old woman was killed when she was mowed down by a car allegedly driven by a Nazi sympathiser. About 20 others were injured.

White nationalist demonstrators use shields as they clash with counter-demonstrators at the entrance to Lee Park in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday. Picture: AP Photo/Steve Helber
White nationalist demonstrators use shields as they clash with counter-demonstrators at the entrance to Lee Park in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday. Picture: AP Photo/Steve HelberSource:AP

Mr Trump said at the press conference that not all of the people who attended the rally were racists and that many were there to “innocently protest”.

“I’ve condemned neo-Nazis, I’ve condemned many different groups, but not all of those people were neo-Nazis, not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch,” he said.

“Those people were also there because they wanted to protest the taking down of a statute … The press has treated them absolutely unfairly.”

Virginia State Police in riot gear guard the statue of Robert E Lee. Picture: AP Photo/Steve Helber
Virginia State Police in riot gear guard the statue of Robert E Lee. Picture: AP Photo/Steve HelberSource:AP

Mr Trump questioned the need to take down controversial statues that represent America’s racist history, often tied to slavery, implying it amounted to “changing history [and] culture”.

“This week it’s Robert E Lee; I noted that Stonewall Jackson’s coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next week and is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?” Mr Trump said, in reference to the fact that Mr Washington and Mr Jefferson, both former presidents, were slave owners.

When asked why he waited two days to explicitly denounce the white supremacists and neo-Nazis involved in the violence, Mr Trump said he “wanted to make sure … that what I said was correct”.

Multiple white nationalist groups march with torches through the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville on Friday night. Picture: Mykal McEldowney/The Indianapolis Star via AP
Multiple white nationalist groups march with torches through the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville on Friday night. Picture: Mykal McEldowney/The Indianapolis Star via APSource:AP

“I don’t want to go quickly and just make a statement for the sake of making a political statement. I want to know the facts,” he said.

“Frankly, people still don’t know all of the facts.”

Soon after making that statement, Mr Trump said the man accused of ramming his car into the crowd, James Fields, who is still before the courts, was a murderer.

People receive first-aid after a car ran into a crowd of protesters in Charlottesville. Picture: AFP/Paul J Richards
People receive first-aid after a car ran into a crowd of protesters in Charlottesville. Picture: AFP/Paul J RichardsSource:AFP

“The driver of this car is a disgrace to himself, his family and this country,” he said.

“You can call it terrorism, you can call it murder, you can call it whatever you want … The driver of the car is a murderer and what he did was a horrible, horrible, inexcusable thing”.

Mr Trump said race relations in America had been “frayed for a long time”.

The President said he was generating new jobs in the country, which would have a “tremendous positive impact on race relations”.

Source: News Corp Australia Network:

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