- President Donald Trump tweeted Saturday to condemn “all types of racism” ahead of Sunday’s “Unite the Right” rally.
- The event’s organisers describe it as a rally to support “white civil rights,” and it will fall on the one-year anniversary of violent clashes between white supremacists and counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia.
- Trump received widespread backlash last summer after he failed to condemn the white supremacists responsible for the Charlottesville rally, which left three dead and dozens injured.
President Donald Trump tweeted Saturday to condemn “all types of racism” and violence ahead of Sunday’s “Unite the Right” rally in Washington, DC.
Sunday’s event marks the anniversary of last year’s violent clash between white supremacists and counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia that started over the removal of a Confederate statue.
“The riots in Charlottesville a year ago resulted in senseless death and division,” Trump tweeted. “We must come together as a nation. I condemn all types of racism and acts of violence. Peace to ALL Americans!”
Trump’s refusal to specifically condemn white supremacists in Saturday’s tweet mirrors his reaction to last year’s rally, when he claimed the violence came from “many sides.”
The Charlottesville rally left three dead and dozens injured. Among the dead was counter-protester Heather Heyer, who was killed when a white supremacist drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters. Two Virginia state troopers who were called to respond to the violence were also killed.
Following the rally, Trump offered a vague condolence and shrugged off the rally organiser’s racially motivated actions as something that had “been going on for a long, long time in our country.”
His comments ignited a firestorm and prompted lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to slam the president for not taking a stronger stance against the extremist groups involved in organising the rally.
Congressional and political leaders have also spoken out ahead of Sunday’s anniversary rally to highlight Trump’s uneven record on addressing racial tensions in the US.
NAACP President Derrick Johnson said Trump’s rhetoric and policies – like his comment that some African nations are “s—thole countries” and his longtime doubt over former President Barack Obama’s birthplace – clearly portray him as a “racist.”
Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine told CBS Trump’s fumble in not addressing white nationalists’ actions following last year’s rally “stoked division” among Americans and were “every bit as morally bad as holding views that are that are bigoted or racist.”
Sunday’s rally will be held across the street from the White House after the organiser of last year’s event, white nationalist Jason Kessler, was denied a permit in Charlottesville this year.
Washington officials said they are also prepared for three planned counter-protests that could attract a total of nearly 2,000 people.
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