President Donald Trump held a press conference at Trump Tower in Manhattan on Tuesday in which he said there was blame and decent people on "both sides" of the protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, that broke out into violence between white supremacists and counter protesters with Antifa, a communist-anarchist group that claims to be anti-fascist.
His comments came one day after he had condemned the KKK and white supremacist groups in a statement to reporters at the White House.
"Racism is evil — and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans," Trump said. "Those who spread violence in the name of bigotry strike at the very core of America."
During the press briefing on Tuesday, however, Trump said "there is blame on both sides" for the violence and there were decent people on all sides of the protests.
"Not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch," Trump said.
Trump's comments were perceived by many as giving the alt-right a pass, and he was roundly condemned by the mainstream media, members of both political parties, and some of his supporters for reiterating that there were "many sides" to blame for the violence.
Here are some of the reactions to Trump's words. While most are negative, some have defended his remarks. (Click on the next page link above)
Democratic members of the House of Representatives have introduced a resolution calling for the censure of Trump over his "both sides" comments.
Reps. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., and Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-N.J., authored the measure.
"The resolution would censure and condemn Trump for reasserting this week that 'both sides' were to blame for the violence between white nationalists attending the 'Unite the Right' rally to protest the city's removal of a Confederate statue and counter-protesters," The Hill reported on Wednesday.
Last Saturday, alt-right protesters — which included white supremacists, the KKK, and white nationalist socialist groups — held the "Unite the Right" rally to protest the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue in Emancipation Park.
The event was organized by Jason Kessler, a man who used to be an Obama supporter and an Occupy Wall Street activist, who was defended in federal court by the ACLU of Virginia and the Rutherford Institute, which claimed that "his First and 14th Amendment rights were being denied by the city's refusal to allow him and supporters to access Emancipation Park on Aug. 12 for a previously approved demonstration," the ACLU states on its website.
"Charlottesville tried to revoke the permit it had issued for the rally to be held in Emancipation Park, in order to move the protestors about a mile away to McIntire Park, which offered more open space," NPR reports.
Violent clashes broke out between Antifa and white nationalist groups after police were reportedly given orders to stand down, according to the ACLU, which was monitoring the situation.
Later in the day, a 20-year-old named James Alex Fields Jr. drove his 2010 Dodge into a crowd of counter protesters and sent bodies flying, a scene that was caught on camera. The vehicular assault killed Heather Heyer, 32, and injured at least 19 others.
Fields is believed to have been at the rally with a group called Vanguard America, a self-proclaimed anti-Semitic national socialist group.
Pastor Darrell Scott, president of the National Diversity Coalition for Trump, agreed with the president on there being violent intentions from far-left groups at the Charlottesville protests.
Pastor Scott told MSNBC's Katy Tur on Tuesday that he believed many people were giving the counter-protesters "a pass" when it came to some of their own having violent intentions.
"They came with the intent to incite violence," Scott said. "They were walking down the street with pepper spray and they were walking down the street with homemade flamethrowers."
"Let's not act like they did not know with the intent to shut that protest down by whatever means necessary."
A piece published by The Atlantic on Wednesday denounced Trump's "both sides" press conference, arguing that it "will very likely be remembered as a moment of extreme moral clarity" wherein "the emperor, speaking in his golden chamber with the aid of scrolls and servants, revealed himself, once again, for what he is.
"But there was something else that crystallized in that press conference: that image of the president, taking the words of reconciliation — words that had been selected and edited and set in the permanence of print — and undoing them," argued the column.
"The president privileging his own words, the work of a mind in a moment, over those that had been chosen for him. In an instant, the 'we' of the statement had been replaced, effectively, with an 'I.'"
British Prime Minister Theresa May, a member of the Conservative Party and devout Christian, denounced Trump's comments as creating a false moral equivalency between fascism and anti-fascism.
"I see no equivalence between those who propound fascist views and those who oppose them," said Prime Minister May, as reported by the UK Mirror.
"I think it is important for all those in positions of responsibility to condemn far right views wherever we hear them."
May went on to note that her country has "taken action to ban far-right groups here, we have proscribed certain far-right groups here in the United Kingdom."
Conservative columnist David French authored a piece for National Review in which he called Trump's "both sides" press conference as the moment when Trump "gave the alt-right its greatest national media moment ever."
"What makes this all the more puzzling is that it is so easy to say the right thing here. Do not call anyone at a racist rally a 'very fine' person," wrote French.
"It's not hard to name and condemn an act of alt-right terrorism. It's not hard to name and condemn the alt-right without equivocation. And it's not hard to also condemn political violence on all sides."
French noted that while there were indeed some violent left-wing activists among the counter-protesters, "all that pales in importance compared to his stubborn and angry attempts not just at moral equivalence (after all, no one on the Left committed murder this weekend) but at actually whitewashing evil."
"Donald Trump loves people who love him, and the vile and vicious alt-right has loved him from the beginning. Today, he loved them right back," concluded French.