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Charlottesville mayor blames Trump for violent weekend

August 13, 2017 at 5:57 PM EDT
As locals grappled with the aftermath of a white nationalist rally that left three people dead on Saturday, Mayor Michael Signer wasted no words on denouncing President Donald Trump for what he says is his culpability in the violence. But a white nationalist leader told The NewsHour’s P.J. Tobia that the radical left is at fault.
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P.J. TOBIA: Leaving services at Charlottesville’s African Methodist Episcopal Church this morning, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe had a clear message for the white nationalist protesters.

GOV. TERRY MCAULIFFE: Tell white supremacists, tell the neo-Nazis, tell the KKK, tell ‘em all, “We’ve had enough of it.” Get out of our country. You are not wanted here. You are dividing us.

P.J. TOBIA: Congregants at Mount Zion Baptist Church decried the protesters who descended on the city, carrying Confederate flags and displaying swastikas.

JAMES JACKSON, DEACON, MOUNT ZION BAPTIST CHURCH: It’s a shame that in this day and time that children and people still teach racial hatred so that it’s passed on. It won’t stop living in the United States of America or in this country until people come to grips with it.

Today, Charlottesville’s Democratic mayor, Michael Signer, wasted no words in calling out President Trump for what he says is his culpability in yesterday’s violence.

MAYOR MICHAEL SIGNER: I think that responsibility for this coarsening of our dialogue and for the invitation of open bigotry and open incitement and the prejudices, goes right to the doorstep of the president and the people around him who chose to dance with the devil in their presidential campaign.

P.J. TOBIA: Signer says that despite criticism that Charlottesville police did not do enough to stop fights from breaking out, the city moved quickly to break up the event.

MAYOR MICHAEL SIGNER: It was declared an unlawful assembly because of violent, not peaceable speech, not peaceable assembly before the event even got going. It was supposed to start at noon and unlawful assembly was declared before that because of the violence of the initial participants in the initial event.

P.J. TOBIA: Mayor Signer calls the protesters “damaged.” But Matthew Heimbach, head of the white nationalist group, the Traditionalist Workers Party, who attended yesterday’s protest, says radical leftists are truly to blame for yesterday’s unrest.

We spoke at a park that the city originally wanted his group to demonstrate in.

MATTHEW HEIMBACH: These people were yelling, “Kill, kill, kill all the Nazis.” They were using any weapon they could to try and kill the men and women that were marching with me, that were standing for General Lee, that were standing for our heritage, and just bringing our nationalist movement together.

P.J. TOBIA: He was unwilling to denounce the automobile attack that left one person dead and several injured.

MATTHEW HEIMBACH: We don’t exactly know what happened, but what I do know is if you’re in the car, you’re surrounded by people that are flat-out chanting that they want to kill you, because their definition of a Nazi is anyone they politically disagree with, that is a terrifying situation to be in, especially by yourself.

P.J. TOBIA: All sides, left and right, who participated in yesterday’s rally say that Charlottesville is a turning point in their conflict.

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