Tags: Charlottesville | mayor signer | charlottesville | trump | campaign | white nationalists | direct line

Charlottesville Mayor: A 'Direct Line' Between Trump Campaign, Riots

(NBC News)

By    |   Sunday, 13 August 2017 01:32 PM

There is a "direct line" between how President Donald Trump's campaign played on the nation's "worst prejudices" and the rioting that ended in the deaths of three people in Charlottesville this weekend, Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer said Sunday.

"Look at the campaign he ran," Signer told Jake Tapper on CNN's "State of the Union" program. "I mean, look at the intentional courting, both on the one hand of all these white supremacists, white nationalists, a group like that, anti-Semitic groups, and then look on the other hand the repeated failure to step up, condemn, denounce, silence, you know, put to bed all those different efforts, just like we saw yesterday.”

There are two words that need to be said, "over and over again," he continued — "domestic terrorism and white supremacy."

Both were on display in Charlottesville, the mayor said, but there was no "leadership from the White House."

Trump is being criticized by Republicans and Democrats alike for his statement on Saturday during an appearance at his golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey.

In his statements, Trump called Saturday's violence an “egregious display of hatred, bigotry, violence — on many sides,” making it appear to critics that the president was placing blame on the white nationalists and supremacists that planned the rally and the people who came to protest them.

During last year's campaign, Trump was slammed for being slow to disavow the support of people like former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, who was at the rally Saturday and spoke to the media.

Signer thanked Trump for condemning the violence, but, in an interview with NBC "Meet the Press" moderator Chuck Todd Sunday, he said the president did not go far enough.

"There is an old saying, “when you dance with the devil, the devil doesn't change, the devil changes you," said Signer. "I think they made a choice in that campaign, a very regrettable one, to really go to people's prejudices, to go to the gutter. These influences around the country, these anti-Semites, racists, Aryans, Nazis, KKK, they were always in the shadows.

But they've really been given a key and a reason to come into the light."

Signer, however, told CBS "Face the Nation" moderator John Dickerson that he does not want to make the tragedy that occurred in his city too much about Trump.

"We have a lot of grieving, a lot of work to do as a city and as a country," Signer said. "But he should look in the mirror. I mean, he made a choice in his presidential campaign, the folks around with him, to, you know, go right to the gutter, to play on our worst prejudices.”

The mayor told NBC that the city's thoughts and prayers are with two Virginia State Police troopers, Berke Bates and H. Jay Cullen, who died in a helicopter crash Saturday evening near Charlottesville, where they were assisting officers on the ground in keeping the violent protests under control. Police said there was no indication of foul play in the crash, according to Fauquier Times in Virginia.

The city's prayers, he continued, are also with Heather Heyer, who was killed when a car rammed into a group of people protesting the white supremacists' rally.

"I think it's clear it was a terrorist attack with a car used as a weapon," Signer told Todd. "Our hearts are grieving right now, and three people died who didn't need to die."

Signer told Todd his city is "very progressive and tolerant," and about a year and a half ago began to start deliberately telling the "full story of race" in its city and past.

"That put us on the map for a whole bunch of folks in this country who oppose everything about that," said Signer. "What we saw this weekend was a deluge of outsiders trying to intimidate us away from that work."

The rally brought in the largest assembly of law-enforcement personnel in Virginia since 9/11, Signer said.

"They were charged with one mission, which was setting the conditions for people to peaceably express themselves and assemble," said Signer. "They didn't do that starting right at the beginning. An unlawful assembly was properly called and events unfolded from there. But we're going to move past this. "

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There is a "direct line" between how President Donald Trump's campaign played on the nation's "worst prejudices" and the rioting that ended in the deaths of three people in Charlottesville this weekend, Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer said Sunday.
mayor signer, charlottesville, trump, campaign, white nationalists, direct line
Sunday, 13 August 2017 01:32 PM
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