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Trump has no credibility when calling for racial calm, rights leaders charge

Tony Pugh, McClatchy Washington Bureau on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump's response to Saturday's fatal racial clash in Charlottesville, Va., drew widespread criticism on Saturday from civil rights groups and lawmakers of both parties who said the president did not go far enough to condemn the white supremacists who provoked the violent mayhem.

One person was killed and nine pedestrians suffered minor to life-threatening injuries after a car plowed into a crowd of counter protestors at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. The impact sent bodies flying and left many sprawled in the streets, lying in pools of blood.

Trump condemned the incident as an "egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. On many sides. Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. This has been going on for a long, long time," Trump said, speaking at an event in Bedminster, N.J.

"The hate and the division must stop, and must stop right now," Trump added. "We have to come together as Americans with love for our nation and true affection -- really --and I say this so strongly -- true affection for each other."

But at no point did Trump mention white supremacists, white nationalists or groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis, whose participation in the event and inflammatory rhetoric precipitated numerous violent skirmishes before the fatal auto collision. He also did not call the violence "terrorism."

Republicans and black leaders condemned Trump's failure to directly blame the white supremacists in Charlottesville.

 

"We should call evil by its name," Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, tweeted. "My brother didn't give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home."

Florida Republican Marco Rubio urged Trump to call the violence terrorism: "Very important for the nation to hear @potus describe events in #Charlottesville for what they are, a terror attack by #whitesupremacists."

"We expect from our president not mollifying words of appeasement," former NAACP president Cornell Brooks said on CNN. "We seek words of strength and firmness when it comes to dealing with white nationalists. He said nothing in that statement that would cause any portion of his base to get the message that it's not a mark of American greatness to drive a car into a crowd of people sending their bodies everywhere."

Some lawmakers and civil rights leaders went so far as to blame the known alt-right leaders surrounding Trump for kindling racial hatred.

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