Donald Trump has condemned violence that broke out as far-right, white nationalists held a rally in Charlottesville, Virgina.
City, county and state authorities declared a state of emergency as clashes broke out between those demonstrating against plans to remove a statue honouring Confederate general Robert E Lee from a Charlottesville park and counter-protesters.
Mr Trump responded to the outbreak of violence ahead of the “Unite The Right” rally through Twitter, saying “we ALL must be united and condemn that hate stands for”.
His message was posted shortly before it was confirmed that one person had been killed and several others injured when a car drove into a crowd of anti-fascist protesters.
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 12, 2017
He stopped short of condemning the racism issue involved in the removal of the Civil War General’s statue. The message was retweeted by the official Presidential Twitter account.
First Lady Melania Trump, who rarely tweets, also responded to condemn the violence in Virginia in a message on her official Twitter account.
Our country encourages freedom of speech, but let’s communicate w/o hate in our hearts. No good comes from violence. #Charlottesville
— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) August 12, 2017
Local media reported that riot police and the National Guard were ready to go in, but state police were already on the scene.
There have been reports of pepper spray being used by protesters on both sides as well as bottles being thrown and physical altercations taking place.
Earlier in the day there was video footage of alleged members of a militia marching through the streets of Charlottesville armed with assault rifles and wearing tactical gear. There have not been any reports of gunshots as yet.
Mr Trump also made a public address several hours after the protests began during a bill signing…