BERKELEY HEIGHTS, N.J. — President Trump marked the first anniversary of deadly racial violence in Charlottesville, on Saturday with an appeal to peace and national unity.
“The riots in Charlottesville a year ago resulted in senseless death and division. We must come together as a nation. I condemn all types of racism and acts of violence. Peace to ALL Americans!” Trump wrote on Twitter.
Trump was heavily criticized, including by Republicans, last year for initially refusing to explicitly condemn the white supremacists who organized and attended the rally. He said then that there were “very fine people, on both sides,” and later, “blame on both sides.”
Trump’s tweet Saturday, his first public mention of the anniversary, did not label the event as a white supremacist rally or specify that it was a white rallygoer who rammed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing one.
Trump also tweeted Saturday about his record in lowering the unemployment rate among African Americans and addressing criminal justice reform.
“I am proud to have fought for and secured the LOWEST African American and Hispanic unemployment rates in history. Now I’m pushing for prison reform to give people who have paid their debt to society a second chance. I will never stop fighting for ALL Americans!” Trump wrote.
Black unemployment did hit a historic low of 5.9 percent in May, though Bureau of Labor Statistics data based on race only goes back to 1972. The volatile rate ticked back up in June and again in July, when it was a still-low 6.6 percent. Hispanic unemployment stood at 4.5 percent in July, a historic low.
Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) commemorated Heather Heyer, the woman killed protesting the rally, and two state troopers killed when their helicopter crashed during the law enforcement response to the violence.
“A group of white nationalists came to a peaceful Virginia town seeking to use hate and division to incite violence against fair-minded, innocent civilians,” Warner tweeted.
“These purveyors of hate and bigotry were emboldened to take their message public by a President who has refused to categorically and unequivocally condemn their message and actions in clear terms.”
Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, now running for Senate from Utah, wrote in a post on his campaign website that “people who knowingly march under the Nazi banner have disqualified themselves as ‘good people.’”