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Trump faces backlash for Charlottesville comments as protest victim is laid to rest

August 16, 2017 at 6:50 PM EDT
President Trump's ricocheting response to the violent Charlottesville confrontation spread a political firestorm as more CEOs quit the president's advisory councils and lawmakers spoke out. Meanwhile, hundreds of people gathered to remember Heather Heyer, who was killed as she protested Saturday's white nationalist rally. John Yang reports.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: The fallout from the weekend’s clash in Charlottesville has dominated the day’s news again. It came in new criticism of President Trump, and in words of praise for the woman who was run down by a car.

John Yang begins our coverage.

JOHN YANG: In Charlottesville today, hundreds of people gathered to remember Heather Heyer at a downtown theater, just blocks from where the 32-year-old was killed as she protested Saturday’s white nationalist rally.

DIANA RATCLIFF, Cousin of Heather Heyer: Did I ever tell you how much I loved you? Heather, when my children ask me who I admire most, I will them you.

JOHN YANG: President Trump called her a truly special young woman.

The firestorm over Mr. Trump’s ricocheting response to the violent confrontation spread. More CEOs quit Trump administration advisory councils. With even additional resignations likely, Mr. Trump moved preemptively. “Rather than putting pressure on the business people of the Manufacturing Council and Strategy and Policy Forum, I am ending both.”

In Chile, Vice President Mike Pence stood by his embattled boss.

VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: The strength of the United States of America is always strongest, as the president has said so eloquently, when we are united around our shared values. And so it will always be.

JOHN YANG: But lawmakers from both parties condemned equating the white nationalists who organized Saturday’s rally, and counterprotesters many Republicans never mentioning the president’s name.

Former Presidents George Bush, father and son, issued a joint statement: “America must always reject racial bigotry, anti-Semitism, and hatred in all forms.”

The backlash also extended abroad.

THERESA MAY, Prime Minister, United Kingdom: I see no equivalence between those who propound fascist views and those who oppose them. And I think it is important for all those in positions of responsibility to condemn far-right views, wherever we hear them.

JOHN YANG: Mindful of Saturday’s confrontation, Baltimore officials ordered the overnight removal of statues of Confederate leaders in the interests of public safety.

In Charlottesville, all this was on the minds of those who spoke of Heather Heyer.

FEDA KHATEEB-WILSON, Friend of Heather Heyer: I want to thank you, Heather, for all your passion, for all of your talks, for all of your smiles, for believing that this world can change, and trying to make that happen.

JOHN YANG: A grieving mother sought meaning in her daughter’s death:

SUSAN BRO, Mother of Heather Heyer: They tried to kill my child to shut her up well, guess what? You just magnified her.

(CROSSTALK)

SUSAN BRO: So, remember, in your heart, if you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention. And I want you to pay attention. And that’s how you’re going to make my child’s death worthwhile. I would rather have my child, but, by golly, if I have to give her up, we’re going to make it count.

(APPLAUSE)

JOHN YANG: For the PBS NewsHour, I’m John Yang.

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