US President Donald Trump, under heavy bipartisan pressure, has finally declared that “racism is evil” and singled out white supremacists and Ku Klux Klan for a violent rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
“Racism is evil and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans,” Trump said Monday from the White House.
The comment came following a meeting with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director Christopher Wray.
Trump vowed he would hold accountable “anyone who acted criminally in this weekend’s racist violence” in Charlottesville.
“We will spare no resource in fighting so that every American child can grow up free from violence and fear. We will defend and protect the sacred rights of all Americans, and we will work together so that every citizen in this blessed land is free to follow their dreams, in their hearts, and to express the love and joy in their souls.”
On Saturday, thousands of white supremacists, KKK members and neo-Nazis descended on Charlottesville for a “Unite the Right” rally. The march soon turned violent. A 20-year-old man plowed a vehicle into a group of anti-hate demonstrators protesting against the white supremacist rally, killing a woman and injuring 19 others.
Trump came under fire for initially blaming the violence on “many sides.” Democrats and Republicans alike called on the president to “call the evil by its name.” In his Saturday remarks, Trump failed to mention white nationalists, neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan or any other groups that participated in the rally.
The White House later tried to placate critics, saying Trump’s vague condemnation of “many sides” included Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazi and all extremist groups.
The president remained defiant for two days but the pressure kept piling up.
On Monday morning, Trump lashed out at the CEO of Merck Pharmaceuticals for resigning from a White House business advisory council over the president’s tepid response.
“America’s leaders must honor our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy,” said Frazier.
“Now that Ken Frazier of Merck Pharma has resigned from President’s Manufacturing Council, he will have more time to LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!” Trump tweeted.
Trump’s attorney general, Sessions, said earlier in the day that the violence in Charlottesville “does meet the definition of domestic terrorism in our statute.” Sessions also said that he expected to hear from President Trump after meeting with him.