White House Clarifies President’s Comments on Virginia Protest Violence

Colin Fredericson
By Colin Fredericson
August 14, 2017Politics
White House Clarifies President’s Comments on Virginia Protest Violence
President Donald Trump speaks at a security briefing on Aug. 10, 2017, in New Jersey. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

After criticism over his response to the Charlottesville, Virginia, violence that occurred on Aug. 12, President Donald Trump’s administration sought to clarify the president’s statements by specifying that the remarks were aimed at white hate groups, as The Hill reported.

Media outlets and politicians have criticized the president’s remarks for not specifically addressing the groups that came out to protest the removal of a Confederate statue.

While Vice President Mike Pence was away in Colombia on an official trip, he gave his statement at a press conference, to clear up any confusion.

“We have no tolerance for hate and violence, white supremacists or neo-Nazis or the KKK,” he said.

In Trump’s speech he stated, “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides—on many sides.” Critics of the president have said this isn’t a strong enough statement and doesn’t spotlight the ideology of rally organizers and participants.

“There is only one side.” tweeted former Vice President Joe Biden. Others sent out tweets to indicate the president needs to be more specific about the groups involved.

The president’s homeland security adviser, Tom Bossert, said on CNN that the president “didn’t dignify the names of these groups of people, but rather addressed the fundamental issue,” as Business Insider reported.

“I take issue with the fact that many in the national media spent more time criticizing the president’s words than they did criticizing those that perpetuated the violence to begin with,” said Pence at the press conference.

The group organizing the protest, Unite the Right, was gathered to protest the removal of a statue of the Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from Emancipation Park, in downtown Charlottesville. The statue had been there since 1924. Emancipation Park was known as Lee Park until this June, as The New York Times reported. The protesters came in reaction to a larger push to remove Confederate monuments throughout the city, and the battle to keep them that has ensued in the courts.

The Emancipation Park protest drew counter-protesters. A 20-year-old man supportive of the protest drove a car into a group of counter-protesters, killing one woman and injuring 19 others. Another tragedy occurred when a helicopter carrying state troopers crashed, killing two troopers inside.

As for condemnation of the specific groups involved, or specific organizations, other politicians and media reports are not naming them either. It seems those were not released to the public, although the main organizer of the event is known to be a blogger named Jason Kessler.

Kessler issued a statement about the violence connected with the rally, as CNN reported.

“The blame for today’s violence lies primarily with Charlottesville government officials and the police officers who failed to maintain law and order, protect the First Amendment rights of rally participants, and provide for their safety.”

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