On Thursday, President Donald J. Trump signed a congressional joint resolution, condemning white supremacy and a litany of hate groups, as well as condemning last month’s violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The resolution was approved in the House by unanimous consent on Tuesday, a day after the Senate passed it. The White House said Wednesday that Trump would “absolutely” sign the resolution, which denounces hate groups and honors Heather Heyer, 32, who was killed while she was counter-protesting.
After signing the resolution, Trump condemned “all forms” of bigotry.
“As Americans, we condemn the recent violence in Charlottesville and oppose hatred, bigotry, and racism in all forms,” Trump said. “No matter the color of our skin or our ethnic heritage, we all live under the same laws, we all salute the same great flag, and we are all made by the same almighty God.”
The resolution urges President Trump to “speak out against hate groups that espouse racism, extremism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, and white supremacy.” It specifically calls out for condemnation “white nationalists, white supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis, and other hate groups.”
On Aug. 12, in response to a sanctioned “Unite the Right” rally in the city, fights broke out over rally attendees’ planned protest of the removal of a statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee from a Virginia park.
Protesters and counter-protesters ultimately came to violence, highlighted by the death of Heyer, a young paralegal who was in a crowd of people when a man drove his car into it.
President Trump praised Heyer’s bravery the day of her memorial service.
“Memorial service today for beautiful and incredible Heather Heyer, a truly special young woman,” Trump tweeted at the time. “She will be long remembered by all!”
While President Trump condemned the violence in Charlottesville early on, he also drew criticism for blaming bad actors “on both sides.” Along with the president, many believe groups like Antifa and Black Lives Matter are also hate groups, and, particularly in the case of Antifa, potential domestic terrorist organizations.
Therefore, the counter-protesters, as well as the white supremacists who were in Charlottesville that day, participated in the violent clashes.
Some Democrats have used President Trump’s response to the events to argue that he is bigoted, however, including Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz., 7th district).
“I’ve said it very clearly; the president is clearly racist,” Gallego said last month. The lawmaker went as far as to call the president of the United States an “abject liar.”
Yet, on Thursday, Trump reiterated his point that left-wing extremist groups, like Antifa, were part of the reason for the escalation in violence, and deserved condemnation for their acts, as well.
“I think, especially in light of the advent of Antifa, if you look at what’s going on there, you have some pretty bad dudes on the other side also, and essentially, that’s what I said,” Trump explained aboard Air Force One. “Now, because of what’s happened since then with Antifa, when you look at really what’s happened since Charlottesville, a lot of people are saying, and people have actually written, ‘Gee, Trump may have a point.'”
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