Attorney General Jeff Sessions denounced the violence that broke out in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday as groups protested a white nationalist rally.
Calls for federal investigators to probe the violence, including one woman’s death, began to emerge from both sides of the aisle on Saturday.
A 32-year-old woman was killed and at least nine others injured when a car plowed into a crowd of people protesting the white nationalist rally, while others were injured in skirmishes between groups throughout the day.
“We stand united behind the President in condemning the violence in Charlottesville and any message of hate and intolerance,” Mr. Sessions said in a statement issued Saturday after President Trump had weighed in. “This kind of violence is totally contrary to American values and can never be tolerated.”
The attorney general said the Justice Department is in touch with investigators in Charlottesville, including FBI agents and local authorities.
“We will continue to support our state and local officers on the ground in any way possible,” Mr. Sessions said.
Video of the crash shows a gray sports car speeding down a street full of pedestrians before slamming into the back of a stopped vehicle. Pedestrians struck by the car could be seen rolling up and over the hood. Others narrowly missed being struck by jumping out of its path.
The car fled the scene, roaring away from the crash in reverse.
Local authorities said the driver of the striking vehicle was taken into custody and the death was being investigated as a “criminal homicide.”
Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, called for the Justice Department to “immediately investigate and prosecute this grotesque act of domestic terrorism.”
An Obama-era Justice Department official also called for federal investigators to look into Saturday’s violence.
“Sessions needs to open a DOJ investigation into today’s hate violence. This is what the FBI and the Civil Rts Division are meant to do,” wrote Vanita Gupta, former head of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, on Twitter.
In addition to the unidentified woman’s death, two Virginia State Police officers were killed Saturday in a helicopter crash while providing assistance in the law enforcement response to events in Charlottesville. The two victims were identified as Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates.
White nationalists gathered in the Virginia college town over the weekend as part of a “pro-white” demonstration to protest the planned removal a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. Skirmishes broke out between white nationalists and protesters who condemned the rally as racist, leading Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe to declare a state of emergency and unequivocally rebuke the actions of the white supremacists.
“I have a message to all the white supremacists and the Nazis who came into to Charlottesville today. Our message is plain and simple: Go home,” the Democratic governor said. “You are not wanted in this great Commonwealth. Shame on you. You pretend you are patriots, but you are anything a patriot.”
Mr. Trump’s own comments about the violence have drawn criticism from those on both the left and the right for not directly denouncing the actions of white supremacists.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides — on many sides,” Mr. Trump said from his golf club in New Jersey, where he’s taking a working vacation.
He later offered condolences to the families of the officers killed in the helicopter crash as well as to the family of the woman killed in the car crash.
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