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President Trump on Saturday strongly condemned the turbulence in Charlottesville, Va., where white nationalists clashed violently with counterprotesters, leaving one person dead and more than 30 injured.
“We’re closely following the terrible events unfolding in Charlottesville, Va. We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence — on many sides, on many sides,” Trump said from his golf resort in Bedminster, N.J.
Trump suggested that the clashes were especially unfortunate given his administration’s successful record. He touted his efforts to renegotiate trade deals and the unemployment rate.
“Our country is doing very well in so many ways. We have a record — just an absolute record — employment. We have unemployment, the lowest it’s been in almost 17 years,” he said, speaking at an event meant to mark signing legislation addressing veterans’ issues.
He continued: “We have companies just pouring into our country: Foxconn and car companies and so many others. They’re coming back to our country. We’re renegotiating trade deals to make them great for our country and great for the American worker. We have so many incredible things happening in our country. So when I watch Charlottesville, to me, it’s very, very sad.”
Trump was speaking just moments after Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer said a person had died when a car plowed into a crowd of counterprotesters. Shocking video of the incident showed the gray vehicle speeding into the group at high speed before reversing itself. The driver was later arrested with charges pending, police said. City officials said 19 people were injured from the crash, in addition to 15 other injuries related to the rally.
“I am heartbroken that a life has been lost here. I urge all people of goodwill — go home,” Signer said.
Related slideshow: Violent clashes erupt at ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville, Va. >>>
Both Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Charlottesville issued statements of emergency.
The “Unite the Right” rally, which included neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members, was a protest against the planned removal of a Confederate statue from Charlottesville. The white supremacists clashed with counterprotesters Friday night going into Saturday afternoon.
Some of the white nationalists, such as former KKK leader David Duke, said they were there to support Trump’s agenda. But Trump insisted Saturday that the issue predated his administration.
“It’s been going on for a long time in our country — not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama — it’s been going on for a long, long time,” he said. “It has no place in America. What is vital now is a swift restoration of law and order and the protection of innocent lives.”
He closed his comments with a call for respect in America.
“We want to get the situation straightened out in Charlottesville. And we want to study it. And we want to see what we’re doing wrong as a country where things like this can happen,” he said.
He continued: “My administration is restoring the sacred bonds of loyalty between this nation and its citizens. Our citizens must also restore the bonds of trust and loyalty between one another.”