President Donald Trump denounced the “KKK, neo-Nazis, [and] white supremacists” in a statement he delivered from the White House on Monday, two days after he was criticized for failing to call out the hate-groups by name in the wake of the Charlottesville, Virginia, riots.
“No matter the color of our skin, we all live under the same laws, we all salute the same great flag, and we are all made by the same almighty God,” Trump said in prepared remarks. “We must love each other, show affection for each other, and unite together in condemnation of hatred, bigotry, and violence. We must rediscover the bonds of love and loyalty that bring us together as Americans.”
At roughly the halfway mark of the five-minute speech, which began with Trump boasting about the economy, the president called out the racist groups by name: “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. We are a nation founded on the truth that all of us are created equal. We are equal in the eyes of our creator, we are equal under the law, and we are equal under our Constitution. Those who spread violence in the name of bigotry strike at the very core of America.”
Trump also sent “thoughts, prayers, and our love” to the family of Heather Heyer, the woman who died after being struck by the car driven by an alleged white supremacist, as well as to the two Virginia State Troopers, H. J Cullen and Berke M. M. Bates, who lost their lives in a helicopter crash during the riots. “These three fallen Americans represent the goodness and decency of our nation,” Trump added. “In times such as these, America has always shown its true character, responding to hate with love, division with unity, and violence with an unwavering resolve for justice.”
White supremacists gathered together from across state lines in the city last weekend where they chanted racist and antisemitic phrases throughout violent demonstrations. During a rally on Saturday, one such nationalist drove his car into a crowd of counter protesters, killing one and injuring 19 others.
“The department of justice has opened a civil rights investigation into the deadly car attack that killed one innocent American and wounded 20 others,” Trump said on Monday. “To anyone who acted criminally in this weekend’s racist violence, you will be held fully accountable. Justice will be delivered.”
The Monday comments came two days after Trump’s initial remarks, which failed to indict white supremacists by name. Trump’s statements were slammed by politicians, celebrities, and members of the news media for being weak.
“We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Let’s come together as one,” Trump initially tweeted. He later said in a statement, “We condemn in the strongest most possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides. On many sides.”
In the aftermath, white supremacist groups praised Trump’s “many sides” remarks, including prominent neo-Nazi blog: “He didn’t attack us. He just said the nation should come together,” a neo-Nazi website wrote of Trump. “Nothing specific against us. No condemnation at all. When asked to condemn, he just walked out of the room. Really, really good. God bless him.”