President Donald Trump condemned hatred and bigotry "on many sides" on Saturday in response to the unfolding violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Violent clashes between white supremacists and counter-protesters in Charlottesville occurred Friday and Saturday, leading Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe to declare a state of emergency.
A person then plowed a car into a crowd of counter-protesters in Charlottesville on Saturday morning; according to reports, at least one person is dead and 19 have been injured.
"We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides. On many sides," Trump said. "It's been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump. Not Barack Obama. It's been going on for a long, long time."
Trump's use of the phrase "on many sides" drew criticism for seemingly suggesting the conduct of white supremacists was on par with counter-protesters.
Trump called for a "swift restoration of law and order," saying no citizens should fear for their safety and security.
"We have to come together as Americans with love for our nation—and I say this so strongly—true affection for each other," Trump said.
He then discussed the "record employment" in the U.S. and renegotiation of trade deals as examples of great things happening in the country. Trump saluted the work of law enforcement and said the federal government would continue to provide any necessary assistance.
"No matter our color, creed, religion or political party, we are all Americans first," Trump said.
Trump said he wanted to study the incident and see "what we're doing wrong as a country" where incidents like this occur.
"We must love each other, respect each other, and cherish our history and our future together. So important. We have to respect each other," Trump said. "Ideally, we have to love each other."
The rally began as a "pro-white" protest, planned by right-wing blogger Jason Kessler, in response to Charlottesville's decision to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, Fox News reports:
Local police estimated that as many as 6,000 people were taking part in the rally. Among those expected to attend were Confederate heritage groups, KKK members, militia groups and so-called "alt-right" activists, who generally espouse a mix of racism, white nationalism and populism.
Kessler said this week that the rally is partly about the removal of Confederate symbols but also about free speech and "advocating for white people."