Politicians across the spectrum are condemning the violent clashes between neo-Nazis and white nationalists and counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe sharply denounced the violence, tweeting, “The acts and rhetoric in #Charlottesville over past 24 hours are unacceptable & must stop. A right to speech is not a right to violence.”
McAuliffe declared a state of emergency on Saturday as the protests devolved into violent riots.
“White Supremacists and neo-Nazis are, by definition, opposed to American patriotism and the ideals that define us as a people and make our nation special,” Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican, said in a statement.
“As we mourn the tragedy that has occurred in Charlottesville, American Patriots of all colors and creeds must come together to defy those who raise the flag of hatred and bigotry,” McCain said.
First Lady Melania Trump urged calm and said that while “our country encourages freedom of speech,” it was important to “communicate w/o hate in our hearts. No good comes from violence. #Charlottesville.”
“March & rally in Charlottesville against everything the flag stands for,” tweeted Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer. “President Trump must condemn in strongest terms immediately.”
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion…” Former President Barack Obama tweeted, quoting Nelson Mandela.
“People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love….For love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” Obama added.
“This is the march that carries us forward. #Charlottesville” tweeted Jeff Jackson, a North Carolina state senator. Jackson’s tweet included a photo of former President Barack Obama marching in Selma in 2015 on the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday.
House Speaker Paul Ryan also condemned the white nationalist rally. “The views fueling the spectacle in Charlottesville are repugnant,” Ryan tweeted. “Let it only serve to unite Americans against this kind of vile bigotry.”
“What ” WhiteNatjonalist” are doing in Charlottesville is homegrown terrorism that can’t be tolerated anymore that what Any extremist does,” Sen. Chuck Grassley tweeted.
House minority leader Nancy Pelosi weighed in as well. “We will not tolerate the scenes of bigotry and hate taking place in #Charlottesville,” said a tweet sent from her staff’s official account. “We must stand strong together to reject it.”
Ronna McDaniel, the chair of the Republican National Committee, slammed the alt-right protesters. “The hate & bigotry on display in #charlottesville is dangerous & cowardly,” McDaniel tweeted.
Some lawmakers laid the blame on President Donald Trump.
California Rep. Barbara Lee said white nationalists and neo-Nazis “feel emboldened by the Trump Admin. All Americans must condemn this bigotry.”
Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy slammed weighed in as well. “President Trump’s silence as #Charlottesville roils with racist and fascist provocatation is shameful, irresponsible…and, DEFINING,” Leahy tweeted.
“The violence, chaos, and apparent loss of life in Charlottesville is not the fault of “many sides.” It is racists and white supremacists,” Mark Herring, Virginia’s attorney general tweeted, in reference to Trump’s statement on the protests.
“Mr. President – we must call evil by its name. These were white supremacists and this was domestic terrorism,” Cory Gardner, the Colorado Republican, tweeted.
The demonstrations this weekend precede a “Unite the Right” rally called by white nationalists in response to a plan to remove a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee from a park in Charlottesville, Virginia.