Wednesday, September 13, 2017

US Congress Calls on Trump to Speak Out Against White Supremacists, Extremists

The U.S. Congress has approved a joint resolution urging President Donald Trump to speak out against hate groups that support racism, extremism, anti-Semitism and white supremacy.

The House of Representatives passed the resolution Tuesday, a day after the Senate gave its approval. The measure now goes to Trump, who was criticized for his response to violence at a white nationalist rally last month in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Democratic Sen. Mark Warner introduced the resolution along with a bipartisan group of co-sponsors — Democrats Tim Kaine and Richard Blumenthal, and Republicans Cory Gardner, Johnny Isakson and Lisa Murkowski.

The resolution cites an August 11 rally by “hundreds of torch-bearing white nationalists, white supremacists, Klansmen, and neo-Nazis” who chanted racist and anti-Semitic slogans and “violently engaged with counterdemonstrators.”

The next day, an alleged neo-Nazi crashed a car into a group of counterprotesters in downtown Charlottesville, killing Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others. Two state police officers also died that day in a helicopter crash while monitoring the protests.

Congress condemned Heyer’s killing as a “domestic terror attack.”

The resolution says Congress “rejects white nationalism, white supremacy, and neo-Nazism as hateful expressions of intolerance that are contradictory to the values that define the people of the United States.”

It calls on the Trump administration to use every tool available to address the growing number of those groups in the country, to investigate all acts of intimidation and domestic terrorism by them, and to prevent future violence.

Trump initially blamed the violence in Charlottesville on “many sides,” but a few days later condemned neo-Nazis, white supremacists and the Ku Klux Klan for their role in the unrest. He then returned to saying he thinks there is “blame on both sides.”

He has also accused the media of being dishonest in reporting his remarks, telling his supporters at a rally that reporters “don’t want to report that I spoke out forcefully against hatred bigotry and violence and strongly condemn the neo-Nazis the white supremacists and the KKK.”

Rep. Gerry Connolly, a Democrat from Virginia, was among the lawmakers who expressed their support after the resolution passed Tuesday.

“I hope this bipartisan action will help heal the wounds left in the aftermath of this tragedy and send a clear message to those that seek to divide our country that there is no place for hate and violence,” Connolly said.

House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer said Trump now has a fresh chance to “make clear that there were not ‘many sides’ to what happened and that there can be no equivocation when it comes to bigotry and violent racism.”

Warner and Democratic Rep. Joe Crowley said Trump should sign the resolution as soon as possible.

Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch wrote on Twitter that he is “pleased to have supported this resolution condemning white supremacy and hate.”

Republican Rep. Tom Garrett also tweeted that he is pleased to see the measure pass.

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