US President Donald Trump has condemned white supremacists who rallied in Virginia, sparking violence that claimed one life.
Speaking at a White House press conference, Mr Trump said: "Racism is evil and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans."
A 32-year-old woman was killed and 19 people were injured, five critically, on Saturday when a man ploughed a car into a crowd of people protesting the white nationalist rally in the southern college town of Charlottesville.
Mr Trump's statement comes a day after he was criticised across the political spectrum for not explicitly denouncing white supremacists.
Earlier, the White House said in a statement that Mr Trump's remarks condemning violence at the rally were meant to include the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi groups.
US authorities have opened an investigation into the deadly violence in Virginia, which put renewed pressure on the Trump administration to take an unequivocal stand against right-wing extremists who occupy a segment of the Republican president's political base.
Authorities said the woman who died at the rally, Heather Heyer, was killed when James Alex Fields' car hit the crowd.
Mr Field's was arrested on suspicion of murder, malicious wounding and hit-and-run charges.
He made a brief court appearance via video link today and was denied bail by a judge.
Another 15 people were injured in clashes between white nationalists and counter-demonstrators who fought each other with fists, rocks and pepper spray.
Separately, two Virginia state police officers were killed when their helicopter crashed during operations to quell the unrest.
Democrats and Republicans criticised Mr Trump for waiting too long to address the violence, and for failing when he did speak out to explicitly condemn white-supremacist marchers.
Mr Trump initially denounced what he called "this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides".
Yesterday, however, the White House added: "The president said very strongly in his statement yesterday that he condemns all forms of violence, bigotry, and hatred, and of course that includes white supremacists, KKK, neo-Nazi, and all extremist groups. He called for national unity and bringing all Americans together."
The statement was emailed to reporters covering Mr Trump at his golf resort in New Jersey and attributed to an unidentified "White House spokesperson"
Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier has resigned from Mr Trump's American Manufacturing Council over Mr Trump's response.
Accused 'infatuated' with Nazi ideology
Mr Fields, a former US Army enlistee, was described by a former high school teacher as having been "infatuated" with Nazi ideology as a teenager.
The Army confirmed that the 20-year-old reported for basic military training in August 2015 but was "released from active duty due to a failure to meet training standards in December of 2015".
The Army statement did not explain in what way he failed to measure up.
The federal "hate crime" investigation of the incident "is not limited to the driver," a US Justice Department official told Reuters. "We will investigate whether others may have been involved in planning the attack."
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the attack fits the definition of domestic terrorism.
"We are pursuing it in the Department of Justice in every way that we can make a case."
"You can be sure we will charge and advance the investigation towards the most serious charges that can be brought because this is unequivocally an unacceptable, evil attack", he said in an interview on ABC's Good Morning America programme.
Memorial vigils and other events showing solidarity with Charlottesville's victims were held across the country yesterday to "honour all those under attack by congregating against hate," a loose coalition of civil society groups said in postings on social media.
Shortly before the White House statement was released, US Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado, who chairs the Republican Party's Senate election effort, urged the president to condemn "white supremacists" and to use that term.
He was one of several Republican senators who criticised Mr Trump.
Mr. President - we must call evil by its name. These were white supremacists and this was domestic terrorism. https://t.co/PaPNiPPAoW— Cory Gardner (@SenCoryGardner) August 12, 2017
"Calling out people for their acts of evil - let's do it today - white nationalist, white supremacist," Mr Gardner said on CNN's "State of the Union" programme.
"We will not stand for their hate."
The White House statement elaborating on Mr Trump's initial comment on the Charlottesville clashes was followed hours later by even tougher rhetoric against white nationalists from Vice President Mike Pence, on a visit to Colombia.
"We have no tolerance for hate and violence from white supremacists, neo Nazis or the KKK," Mr Pence said.
These dangerous fringe groups have no place in American public life and in the American debate, and we condemn them in the strongest possible terms
Charlottesville mayor Mike Signer, a Democrat, blamed President Trump for helping foment an atmosphere conducive to violence, starting with rhetoric as a candidate for president in 2016.
"Look at the campaign he ran", Mr Signer said on CNN's State of the Nation.
"There are two words that need to be said over and over again - domestic terrorism and white supremacy. That is exactly what we saw on display this weekend."
Protesters in Charlottesville shouted down white nationalist Jason Kessler during a press conference causing him to flee pic.twitter.com/9k757BTcHt— RTÉ News (@rtenews) August 14, 2017
Jason Kessler, an organiser of Saturday's "Unite the Right" rally, which was staged to protest the planned removal of a statue of Confederate army commander General Robert E Lee from a park, said supporters of the event would not back down.
The rally stemmed from a long debate over various public memorials and symbols honouring the pro-slavery Confederacy of the US Civil War, considered an affront by African-Americans.
Mr Kessler attempted to hold a press conference outside city hall in Charlottesville yesterday but was quickly shouted down by counter-protesters.
Source : https://www.rte.ie/news/2017/0814/897189-white-supremicists/