Social media erupted after President Trump’s remarks Tuesday about the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, and Confederate statues.
Trump, in a news conference after making an announcement on infrastructure plans, blamed not just the white supremacist groups that held the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, but also the counterprotesters for the tragedy that occurred this weekend.
“I think there is blame on both sides … What about the alt-left that came charging at, as you say, the alt-right, do they have any semblance of guilt … What about the fact they came charging with clubs in hands, swinging clubs? Do they have any problem? I think they do.”
Thirty-two-year-old Heather Heyer was killed Saturday when a car plowed into a crowd of counterprotesters gathered to oppose the Charlottesville rally of white nationalist and other right-wing groups. Nineteen others were injured in the incident.
A 20-year-old man from Ohio, James Alex Fields Jr., is charged with second-degree murder in Heyer’s death.
Trump’s latest comments came less then 24 hours after he called white supremacists and other hate groups “repugnant.” It didn’t take long for people to start reacting on social media.
“Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth about #Charlottesville & condemn the leftist terrorists in BLM/Antifa,” tweeted former KKK leader, David Duke.
“When the President won’t stand with you for more than 12 hours against Nazis, this cuts deep,” said CNN commentator Van Jones.
Charlottesville Vice Mayor Dr. Wes Bellamy compared Trump’s rhetoric to that of so-called alt-right groups.
“Told y’all about 45. … He’s literally using the SAME language that the supremacists use … This guy REALLY defended the ‘Alt Right’ smh..”
On Tuesday, Trump also spoke about the movement in many cities and states to remove Confederate statues from public property.
Trump brings up Washington and Jefferson
“George Washington was a slave owner. … Are we going to take down statues to George Washington?” Trump said. “How about Thomas Jefferson, what do you think of Thomas Jefferson, do you like him? OK, good. Are we going to take down the statues, because he was a major slave owner? Now are we going to take down his statue?”
A Confederate statue in Durham, North Carolina, was pulled down by protesters Monday night. Several statues honoring Confederates have been removed in other cities in recent months.
Basketball star LeBron James tweeted: “Hate has always existed in America. Yes we know that but Donald Trump just made it fashionable again! Statues has nothing to do with us now!”
Reactions of disbelief
As President Trump’s news conference continued from Trump Tower in New York, many were left stunned by his remarks.
“I haven’t seen anything that crazy since Tyson bit Holyfield @realDonaldTrump,” tweeted late-night host Jimmy Kimmel.
“Republican Party: This is on you, you did this, and only you can do something about this,” tweeted Dan Pfeiffer, vice president of communications and policy for GoFundMe.
“Tell me I did not just hear #Trump say those who protested against the neo-Nazis were just as bad as the white supremacists! WHAT?!?” TV journalist Don Bradshaw said on Twitter.
Not everyone was upset. One Trump supporter said she watched the press conference twice, and another called the conference “epic.”
“I wish he would do a no-holds barred presser like that once a month, it was EPIC & history in the making. Awesome display of who’s the boss.”