President Donald Trump urged unity and condemned hate in response to violent white nationalist protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, that have played out on national television Saturday.
Trump, on his 17-day vacation in New Jersey, urged people to “come together as one” in response to the protests but did not explicitly mention the white nationalist origins of the conflict.
“We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for,” he wrote. “There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!”
Demonstrators clashed on the streets of Charlottesville on Saturday morning ahead of a white nationalist rally, with counter-protesters and right-wing nationalist groups converging on the college town in the latest chapter in the United States’ debate over race and identity.
The protests were precipitated by the city’s government deciding to remove symbols of its confederate past, including a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. Similar protests happened in May when New Orleans officials decided to remove confederate statues.
Trump was not the first White House occupant to respond to the violence.
First lady Melania Trump tweeted 45 minutes before her husband that “our country encourages freedom of speech, but let’s communicate w/o hate in our hearts. No good comes from violence.”
Trump is in the midst of a working vacation at his private golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, a trip that has so far been consumed by roiling tensions on the Korean Peninsula. Trump’s time away from the White House has been anything but calm, with the President consistently responding to threats from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who has threatened to launch missiles near the US territory of Guam.
Tom Bossert, Trump’s homeland security adviser who is with the President in New Jersey, tweeted Saturday that “the violence and hate in Charlotte (sic) are unacceptable.”
“Protests must not undermine law and order,” he said. “Confidence in state/local law enforcement.”