USA: Charlottesville mayor says Saturday's incident was terrorism, FBI investigating
Saturday's incident during which a man drove a car into a crowd of people in Charlottesville, Virginia is being investigated by the FBI. Unrest broke out in the town that was provoked by two assemblies by white extremists there beginning Friday.
Many American politicians have rejected the violence, including Ivanka Trump, daughter of US President Donald Trump and member of his administration. The White House has also clarified its reaction to the incident after facing sharp criticism for not explicitly rejecting the behavior of the white extremists.
Friday night, hundreds of ultra-right extremists carrying burning torches first clashed with their critics on a university campus because of a dispute about their carrying the Confederate flag, which their critics called a symbol of racism and slavery. That street battle was dispersed by police using tear gas.
On Saturday the incident in which the car was driven into the crowd cost the life of a 32-year-old woman and injured 19 more people, five of them seriously. Mayor Mike Signer called the incident a terrorist attack.
Driver James Alex Fields faces charges, among others, of second-degree murder. The FBI is analyzing all of the facts as part of its investigation of the case and is not ruling out the notion that the 20-year-old Fields may also be charged with breaking federal laws.
Charges of terrorism would fall under those laws. Fields drove the car into a group of people protesting against the presence of the promoters of white supremacy.
Heather Heyer was killed by the vehicle. Mayor Signer said the perpetrator committed his terrorist attack using the car as his weapon.
Fields' mother, Samantha Bloom, told the Associated Press that she knew her son was planning to attend a demonstration but claims she did not know it was an assembly of white extremists. She believed the event he was going to attend had "something to do with President Trump".
Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe accused the white extremists of pretending to be patriots. He also warned them that there was no place for them in his state.
"You are not welcome here," the Governor emphasized. Trump's daughter also condemned Saturday's incident on Twitter.
"There should be no room for racism, white supremacy or neo-Nazis in society. We must all unite as Americans - and be one country, united," she tweeted.
The US President became a target of sharp criticism for not taking an unequivocal stance against the unrest. While he condemned what he called an "egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence", he said the display came from "many sides, on many sides".
Trump did not mention that the white racists bore responsibility for the unrest. Today the White House released a statement saying the President condemns all forms of violence committed by anybody.
"In his statement yesterday [i.e., on Saturday] the President stated absolutely clearly that he condemns all forms of violence, bigotry and hatred. That naturally also includes white racists, the KKK, neo-Nazis and all extremist groups," the White House said.
Before the White House issued that statement, former US Vice-President Joe Biden expressed consternation at Trump's reaction to the events on Saturday. The former VP said white radicals were soley, unequivocally to blame for the deadly incident.
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