Aug. 11 (UPI) — President Donald Trump on Saturday was critical of racism in a tweet acknowledging the anniversary of a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., that turned deadly last year.
“The riots in Charlottesville a year ago resulted in senseless death and division. We must come together as a nation. I condemn all types of racism and acts of violence. Peace to ALL Americans!” the president tweeted.
The president’s tweet comes ahead of planned events to mark the one-year anniversary Aug. 12 of the deadly “Unite the Right” rally, an event where protesters gathered, some in opposition to the removal of Confederate statues, others in support of white supremacy.
Clashes at the rally resulted in at least 30 injuries and the death of Heather Heyer, after a vehicle driven by James Alex Fields Jr. plowed into a group of counter-protesters.
Fields was charged with 29 hate crimes. Two Virginia State Police troopers also died that weekend when their helicopter, assisting with public safety, crashed during the rally.
“You had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides,” Trump had said.
White nationalists are again planning to rally Sunday, this year at Lafayette Park, just across from the White House, where a large counter protest is also scheduled.
Earlier this week, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and the city of Charlottesville both declared states of emergency for events in and around Charlottesville and Washington, D.C.
Police in Charlottesville on Saturday arrested three people inside and near the security area in downtown – a 28-year-old man for trespassing twice, a 64-year-old man for possession of razors, something prohibited items during the rally events, and a 53-year-old man for being drunk in public.
Congressman Tom Garrett, R.-Va., on Saturday said Russia is to blame for some of the hate spewed from last year’s rally.
Garrett said he was told during a briefing with the FBI director that Russian meddling played in a role in “fomenting the flames of what happened in Charlottesville.”
“I sat in a closed session briefing probably two months ago about Charlottesville with the director of the FBI, amongst others, and asked if Russian inter-meddling had to do with fomenting the flames of what happened in Charlottesville. I was told yes, it did,” Garrett told CNN.
On Friday Garrett released a statement reminding people to “focus not on the droplets that divide us, but the oceans that unite us. Ignore the hate, love your American family, and discuss with respect, if often disagreement, the ideas upon which we should move forward together.”