How white nationalist leader Matt Heimbach defends violence at Saturday’s rally in Charlottesville

Sensitivity warning: This video contains graphic images and symbols that are widely considered to represent hate speech.

The PBS NewsHour’s P.J. Tobia sat down with Matthew Heimbach of the Traditionalist Worker Party, a white nationalist group, after a car attack left one person dead and 19 more injured Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia. People had gathered to protest a march by white nationalists and alt-right extremists, who denounced the proposed removal of a statue commemorating Confederate General Robert E. Lee in the sleepy college town.

James Alex Fields, Jr., 20, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder for driving a Dodge Challenger at high speeds into a crowd of protesters. The incident resulted in the death of Heather Heyer, 32, of Charlottesville. Authorities are holding Fields in custody without bond.

In 2016, Heimbach told the NewsHour the term “racist” was used to define “any white people that want to be able to advocate for their best interests” and that the movement he supports is “a European-style nationalist movement.”

And days before the 2016 election, Heimbach said he felt support from now-President Donald Trump, saying he “has shown us that the majority of everyday Americans support our sort of message. They’re tired of globalism, they’re tired of rampant capitalism, they’re tired of Wall Street being put first, instead of Main Street.”

Heimbach referred to Saturday’s automobile attack as a “car accident” and said, “We don’t know all the details from that.” Here are other moments from that interview:

On whether he regretted that someone died in the automobile attack

I think it’s regretful if any person loses their life, but i’m also not going to cry over someone trying to kill me and my comrades a few hours earlier ending up in that situation. This is the breakdown at the center of American politics and public discourse. These radical leftists are truly trying to kill anyone they disagree with, and we saw that with their actions yesterday.

On whether President Trump contributed to the atmosphere of violence in the streets

I think we’re seeing really the breakdown of the center of America. I don’t think there is a political center in America anymore. And I think Donald Trump doesn’t cause that, but he is showing that. Of course his election was really the white working class coming together to say that we are tired of open borders, we’re tired of globalization, we’re tired of endless imperialist wars.

On whether, as an organizer, he feels at all responsible for the death of Heather Heyer

Not at all. These people were yelling, “Kill, kill, kill them all the Nazis.” They were using any weapon they could to try and kill the men and women that were marching with me. They were standing for General Lee, they were standing for heritage, and just bringing our nationalist movement together.

There would have been no violence whatsoever yesterday, if the police had simply done their job and given the leftist protesters their own space to protest, which is their right, we’d have been allowed to hold our rally. The left were the ones attacking us.

On what he sees as the growth of the nationalist community

The radical leftists understood if the nationalist community can come together, stand together, and fight together, that we are going to be unstoppable. That our rise, just even going back since I’ve been involved in this movement, it used to be that a rally of 50 guys was very successful. Now we’re rallying 1,000, 1,500 people in the streets. Our movement is growing, and they are trying to use violence and intimidation to silence us, to try and stop our movement.

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