President Donald Trump has again blamed “both sides” for deadly clashes last weekend between white supremacists and other protesters.
His comments came in response to questions from reporters Tuesday at Trump Tower in New York.
Trump said the groups that protested against white supremacists during the demonstrations Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia, were “also very violent.”
The latest remarks seemed to undo a statement Monday in which Trump condemned the actions of white supremacists and other hate groups. Trump’s prepared statement Monday came after he was heavily criticized for saying earlier that the Charlottesville violence was caused by “many sides.”
In his statement Monday, the president said "racism is evil.” He added: “Those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK (Ku Klux Klan), neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans."
In Charlottesville on Saturday, a 32-year-old woman was killed and 19 people were injured when a man drove his car into a crowd of activists. The activists were protesting a white supremacist demonstration. Another 15 people were injured in fights between white supremacists and counter-demonstrators.
Trump blames 'both sides'
In his comments Tuesday, Trump called the events in Charlottesville “a horrible day.” But he said there was “blame on both sides,” and added there are “two sides to a story.” Trump even praised his first comments on the issue. He added that some facts about the violence still are not known.
When a reporter asked Trump about the alt-right’s role in the violence. Trump said, “Excuse me, what about the alt-left who came charging as you say at the alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt?”
Trump added “I’ve condemned neo-Nazis. I’ve condemned many different groups. Not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch.” The president went on to say “Those people were also there because they wanted to protest the taking down of a statue of Robert Lee.”
White nationalists, the KKK and others had gone to Charlottesville to protest the city’s decision to take down a monument. It was a statue of Robert E. Lee, an important Civil War general who fought for the southern states. The southern states were seeking to separate from the United States. Many find such monuments offensive because of the South’s support for slavery.
Well-known former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke welcomed the president’s latest remarks. “Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth,” he tweeted.
Others were quick to criticize his comments.
Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown tweeted, “There are not ‘many sides’ to blame for #Charlottesville. There is right and wrong. White nationalism, hatred and bigotry are wrong.”
Texas Representative Will Hurd, a Republican, called on Trump to apologize for his latest remarks. “Racism, bigotry, anti-Semitism of any form is unacceptable,” he told Cable News Network. “And the leader of the free world should be unambiguous about that.”
I’m Bryan Lynn.
Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English based on reports from the Associated Press and Reuters. Hai Do was the editor.
Words in This Story
white supremacist – n. person who believes whites are better than blacks and other races
evil - adj. morally bad
thug – n. violent criminal
repugnant – adj. causing a strong feeling of dislike or disgust
semblance – n. the state of being kind of like something else, but not truly the same thing
bigotry – n. strong, unfair opinions about other groups or people
unambiguous – adj. clearly expressed or understood
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