President returns to Trump Tower for the first time since taking office
Protesters call for unity in rallies across US after violence in Virginia
Shouting “Shame! Shame! Shame!” anti-Trump protesters awaited the President’s arrival in New York City as he returned Monday night for the first time since taking office.
Shortly after 9 p.m., the President’s motorcade pulled up to Trump Tower, approaching from a direction that bypassed the demonstrators.
Hours before, protesters and a small group of supporters behind police barricades lined up across the street from Trump Tower and along the nearby blocks on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue.
As supporters carrying American flags shouted, “God bless President Trump,” anti-Trump protesters chanted, “No KKK, No Fascist USA, No Trump!”
Three people were arrested amid the protests Monday evening at Trump Tower, New York Police Department Detective Hubert Reyes told CNN. All three have been charged with reckless engagement, obstructing government administration, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, Reyes said.
The protests came in the wake of clashes Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia, as counterprotesters met white nationalists and other right-wing groups at the site of a “Unite the Right” event. Counterprotester Heather Heyer was killed when a gray Dodge Challenger rammed into a crowd walking down a street.
Trump condemned white supremacists and neo-Nazis in a brief statement to reporters Monday at the White House following days of mounting bipartisan pressure. He had been denounced after failing to condemn those groups directly and blaming the violence in Charlottesville “on many sides.”
But many critics said Trump was two days too late.
Shortly after his arrival in New York, Trump declared on Twitter, “Feels good to be home after seven months, but the White House is very special, there is no place like it… and the U.S. is really my home!”
‘Feels good to be home’
But on the day when he called out the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis after much criticism, another tweet of his drew attention Monday night. “Made additional remarks on Charlottesville and realize once again that the #Fake News Media will never be satisfied…truly bad people!” he wrote.
Amid the protests in New York, die-hard Trump supporter Mario Laboy acknowledged the President should have denounced white supremacy sooner but said he still has faith in him.
“I’ve been here every day. I’m going to be here tomorrow, I’m going to be here Wednesday. I’m going to be here every day to support Trump. Like I told you before, I said Mr. President you are wrong,” he told CNN.
“It’s only been six months. It’s four years, he’s going to do the correct job. Condemning those neo-Nazis, white supremacists and bringing the people together, black, Hispanic and everyone. …”
Others across the country focused less on Trump and more on the rise of hate groups in the United States and frustration with Confederate statues and what they see as symbols of white supremacy.
Anti-racism rally in suspect’s hometown
In Maumee, Ohio, a suburb about 10 miles southwest of Toledo, about 100 protesters gathered outside St. Paul’s Church to denounce racism, CNN affiliate WTVG reported.
James Alex Fields Jr., 20, the man accused of running down counterprotesters in Charlottesville, lives in Maumee.
“The hatred has just been growing and these groups are crawling out of the sewer now,” Michael Bates, a Toledo resident and Vietnam War veteran, told WTVG.
Bates came to Maumee with his family and said he felt compelled to do something after the violence in Charlottesville and Heyer’s death.
“When I think about that girl, it hurts,” Bates said, holding back tears. “If I could give her mother a hug, I would. Stuff like that isn’t supposed to happen here.”
For others in the crowd, the tragedy in Charlottesville is an example of the overt racism that’s not surprising to some black people.
“As a person of color, it’s something that’s always a part of your life,” Ashley Bunn, a member of the Toledo NAACP and Toledo Young Black Professionals board member, told WTVG. “It’s a consistent reality that you live with.”
Other rallies across the US
About 1,000 people gathered at two rallies Monday night in Salt Lake City to condemn white supremacy and racism, CNN affiliate KSL reported.
The Utah League of Native American Voters and the Multicultural Engagement for Utah organized “the solidarity rally” at the Salt Lake City and County Building downtown, according to KSL.
“It’s about empowering the voices of many vulnerable communities,” said Moroni Benally, co-founder of the Utah League of Native American Voters.
A few hours earlier, Republican leaders and the conservative think tank Sutherland Institute co-hosted a smaller rally of about 200 people at the state Capitol, the station said.
Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox and US Rep. Mia Love condemned the violence in Charlottesville and urged unity.
“To those full of hate, like this gentlemen behind me, we say this, ‘We will defend your right to peaceful assembly and will allow you to do that because we do not fear you.’ “
State Sen. Daniel Thatcher addressed both rallies, but in his second speech he promised an overhaul of Utah’s “outdated, useless hate crimes laws,” KSL reported.
In Durham, North Carolina, demonstrators gathered at the old Durham County Courthouse around the Confederate Soldiers Monument and toppled the nearly century-old statue.
A person climbed a ladder and tied a rope to the top of the statue as the crowd chanted, “We are the revolution.”
Protesters pulled the rope and erupted in cheers as the statue toppled onto the ground. People ran up to the mangled statue, kicking it and spitting on it.
CNN’s Polo Sandoval reported from New York, and Dalila-Johari Paul wrote from Atlanta. CNN’s Amanda Jackson, Shachar Peled, Steve Brusk, Laura Ly and Sonia Moghe contributed to this report.