There was only one side during Sunday’s Miss America pageant: Miss Texas Margana Wood condemned white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and the KKK for the violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, last month — and said President Donald Trump should have spoken out sooner after the riots left one counter-protester dead.
Asked by PEOPLE and EW editorial director Jess Cagle, a judge during this year’s ceremony, to comment on the president’s infamous claim that there were “very fine people on both sides” of the violence, Wood said, “I think that the white supremacist issue … it was very obvious that it was a terrorist attack. And I think that President Donald Trump should have made a statement earlier addressing the fact and making sure all Americans feel safe in this country. That is the number one issue right now.”
Her response drew loud cheers from the crowd and praise online.
After the attacks in Charlottesville last month left one woman dead, Trump made an initial statement, condemning “many sides” for the unrest. “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides, on many sides,” Trump said on Aug. 13. After making another statement on Aug. 15 where he called out hate groups by name, Trump returned to the initial remarks during an impromptu press conference on Aug. 16.
“I do think there’s blame on both sides. You look at both sides, I think there’s blame on both sides. I have no doubt about it and you have no doubt about it either,” Trump claimed. “You had people that were very fine people, on both sides. You had people in that group — excuse me — you had people in that group who were there to protest the taking down of, to them, a very, very important statue and renaming a statue from Robert E. Lee to another name.”