President Trump finally addressed the white nationalist rally sparking tension in Charlottesville, but only after his wife condemned the violence and a barrage of criticism regarding his silence on the matter.
“We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for,” Trump tweeted. “There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Let’s come together as one.”
He continued: “Am in Bedminster for meetings & press conference on V.A & all that we have done and are doing to make it better – but Charlottesville sad!”
He seemed to be following the lead of his First Lady, who tweetedabout the clash of white nationalists, neo-confederates, alt-right activists and counter-protesters an hour or so ahead of Trump Saturday afternoon.
“Our country encourages freedom of speech, but let’s communicate w/o hate in our heart,” Melania Trump wrote just before 1 p.m. “No good comes from violence.”
Thousands descended upon the town, some donning camouflage and combat gear, with others carrying rifles and confederate flags.
Skirmishes broke out in the hours ahead of the “Unite the Right” rally, prompted in part by the city’s decision to remove a statue of General Robert E. Lee and other confederate symbols. Officials declared local and state emergencies as tensions between the demonstrators escalated.
A protest on the campus of the University of Virginia on Friday saw torch-wielding demonstrators chanting phrases rooted in Nazi ideology. It appeared to be linked to the Saturday event and ended with at least one person being taken away in handcuffs as well as several injuries.
President Trump remained silent on the protests up until Saturday, while he vacationed in Bedminster, N.J. He’s in the middle of a 17-day break from Washington, most of which he’s spent at his own golf resort.