“We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!” Mr. Trump tweeted Saturday afternoon.
“Am in Bedminster for meetings & press conference on V.A. & all that we have done, and are doing, to make it better,” Mr. Trump said in a second tweet about 40 minutes later, “but Charlottesville sad!”
He addressed the chaos during an unrelated signing event in Bedminster, New Jersey, later, saying: “No citizen should ever fear for their safety and security in our society, and no child should ever be afraid to go outside and play or be with their parents and have a good time.”
“We condemn, and in the strongest possible terms, this egregious display of hated, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides,” Mr. Trump added, and the federal government is “ready, willing and able” to provide federal assistance.
The White House has spoken with Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s office, and the president’s homeland security advisor, Tom Bossert, is in contact with local authorities in Charlottesville, according to a White House press pool report.
First lady Melania Trump condemned the clashes from her own Twitter account earlier Saturday, tweeting: “Our country encourages freedom of speech, but let’s communicate w/o hate in our hearts. No good comes from violence. #Charlottesville.”
The Trumps’ reactions came after clashes broke out in the streets of Charlottesville late Friday evening and again the next morning on the eve of an “Unite the Right” rally that had been scheduled to start at 12 noon Saturday in Emancipation Park, the site of a controversial monument to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee the city has slated for removal.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe warned Friday that he feared extremist groups would attend the event and turn violent, and at least one person was arrested after far-right demonstrators and counterprotesters clashed on the Charlottesville campus of the University of Virginia later that night on the eve of the event.
Demonstrators again clashed near Emancipation Park late Saturday morning, prompting Mr. McAuliffe, Charlottesville and surrounding Albemarle County to each declare states of emergency shy of the rally’s 12 p.m. start time. Police subsequently declared the events unlawful assemblies and ordered demonstrators to leave the park or risk arrest.
“It is now clear that public safety cannot be safeguarded without additional powers, and that the mostly out-of-state protesters have come to Virginia to endanger our citizens and property,” Mr. McAuliffe said of his emergency declaration Saturday. “I am disgusted by the hatred, bigotry and violence these protesters have brought to our state over the past 24 hours. The actions I have taken are intended to assist local government and restore public safety.”
Charlottesville police had expected upwards of 6,000 people to participate in demonstrations Saturday, including the “Unite the Right” rally in addition to multiple scheduled counterprotests.
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