US President Donald Trump has denounced racism as “evil” and slammed white supremacists and neo-Nazi groups, calling them “criminals and thugs” after a weekend of violence in Charlottesville in Virginia.
Hundreds of white supremacists clashed with counter demonstrators as a car rammed into the crowd and a police helicopter crashed on Saturday, killing three people and injuring 19 others in Charlottesville.
“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 in a televised address from the White House.
All those who engaged in racist violence over the weekend in Charlottesville “will be held fully accountable…We will spare no resource in fighting, so every American child can grow up free from violence and fear,” he added.
The Department of Justice, he said, has opened a civil rights investigation into the deadly car attack that killed one innocent American, and wounded others.
“To anyone who acted criminally in this weekend’s racist violence, you will be held fully accountable. Justice will be delivered,” he said.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence. It has no place in America,” said the US President.
Trump stated that those who spread violence in the name of bigotry strike at the very core of America, while morning the death of the victims in the protests.
“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,” Trump said.
Earlier, Trump had condemned the violence but said “many sides” were involved, inviting criticism from across the political spectrum for not specifically denouncing the far right.
(With inputs from agencies)