President Donald Trump called the KKK, neo-Nazis, and others like them “repugnant” on Monday.
“Racism is evil,” President Trump said in an address from Washington. “Those who spread violence in the name of bigotry strike at the very core of America.”
The comments came after Saturday’s sorrow in Virginia, when a suspected white supremacist drove a car into a group counter-protesting a hate rally in Charlottesville.
Heather Heyer, 32, was killed, and 20 other people were injured when the suspect, James Alex Fields Jr., allegedly plowed into the crowd.
Fields did not enter a plea at a court appearance Monday.
The president’s rejections came too late for Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont.
Sanders was critical of the president for not being more forceful over the weekend in condemning the hate groups.
On Saturday, President Trump said bigotry “on many sides” was to blame for the violence.
“To suggest that there's violence, quote unquote, on all sides is total nonsense,” Sanders said Monday. “The message he is sending out to racists and neo-Nazis all over the country is, ‘It's OK.’”
Sanders’ remarks to members of the media followed a town hall meeting at the Franklin County Senior Center, which focused primarily on health care concerns affecting senior citizens.
“You have a president who doesn't have the guts to say what the vast majority of the people understand to be true, that white supremacy and neo-Nazism have got to be condemned,” Sanders said, describing his disappointment in President Trump for what Sanders said was a weak response to the situation Saturday.
Sanders said because of a lack of forcefulness and directness Saturday when it came to rejecting white supremacists and other hate groups, that Trump bears some responsibility for the boldness exhibited by white nationalist demonstrators who marched through Charlottesville Friday, carrying torches and chanting hateful slogans.
Humphrey Leonard of Jamaica, who works in Franklin County, said he wants to become an American citizen. Still, he told necn the Virginia violence is a reminder of how much work the U.S. has to do around race.
“I don't think things are going to change to be better,” Humphrey sighed. “Because racism is still there. Some people still have it — not everybody have it — but some people still have it.”
In a written statement, Vermont’s other U.S. Senator, Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, said, “I will always denounce the racial, religious and even political bias and hatred growing in our country. It makes us less safe as a nation and it is not why all of us work to preserve what we see as American values.”
Gov. Phil Scott, R-Vermont, also spoke out against the violence and hate speech in Virginia. Over the weekend, Scott said that kind of behavior does not represent American values, and has no place in our nation.