President Trump, First Lady Melania Trump and Vice President Mike Pence issued statements on Saturday condemning the “hate” and “violence” that erupted at a rally of white supremacists in Charlottesville, Va. earlier in the day.
“We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!” Trump said in a statement posted to Twitter.
Minutes earlier, Melania Trump issued a similar statement.
“Our country encourages freedom of speech, but let’s communicate w/o hate in our hearts. No good comes from violence,” she tweeted, adding the hashtag “#Charlottesville.”
Pence echoed those comments in a tweet of his own.
The statements were criticized by some as being too vague and not directly calling out the white supremacists who organized the “Unite the Right” rally, which was held at Emancipation Park, formerly known as Lee Park.
As a comparison, Virginia Rep. Barbara Comstock, a Republican, referred to the protesters as “neo-Nazis.”
“The neo-Nazi march and the hate and racism on display in Charlottesville are vile, have no place in Virginia, and are denounced by Republicans and Democrats alike in our great Commonwealth,” she said in a statement.
The rally was declared an “unlawful assembly” by city officials after violence erupted between white nationalists and anti-fascist counter-protesters.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency Saturday morning. The White House has been in contact with McAuliffe’s chief of staff, according to pool reports. Thomas Bossert, Trump’s homeland security adviser, has also been in contact with local authorities.
Between 2,000 and 6,000 white nationalists and white supremacists descended on Emancipation Park to visit the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, which the city of Charlottesville recently ordered removed.
Fights erupted during the rally, leaving some injured.
On Friday, hundreds of white nationalists carrying tiki torches gathered on the campus of the University of Virginia, shouting “White Lives Matter” and “Blood and Soil,” a slogan affiliated with Nazi Germany. (RELATED: TIKI TORCH PARADE: White Nationalists, Anti-Semites March On Charlottesville)