Thousands of protesters have flooded the streets of Phoenix, Arizona, where US President Donald Trump was addressing a rally, in which he repeated his inflammatory remarks about the racist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Trump said Tuesday that “the very dishonest media” mischaracterized his response to the violent protests in Charlottesville on August 12.
He said he “openly called for unity, healing and love” and denounced violence in the “strongest possible terms”, but the press did not report those comments and instead fabricated other stories with “no sources.”
“They don’t report the facts. Just like they don’t want to report that I spoke out forcefully against hatred, bigotry and violence and strongly condemned the Neo-Nazis, the white supremacists and the KKK,” he said.
“What happened in Charlottesville strikes at the core of America and tonight, this entire arena stands united in forceful condemnation of the thugs that perpetrated hatred and violence,” the president said.
In the deadly protests last weekend, neo-Nazis and white supremacists took over the Virginia city’s streets and prompted thousands of others to demonstrate in a counter-rally, which led to violent clashes.
The president blamed the violence, which left one woman dead and several others injured, on both sides of the conflict.
His reaction sparked a political firestorm and drew sharp rebukes from members of Congress, military leaders and major business executives. It also led to several protests in different cities across the country.
On Tuesday, hundreds of his supporters and opponents gathered in Phoenix, with protesters shouting, “Shame, shame, shame” and “No Trump, No KKK, No fascist USA.”
“Trump saying people on both sides are to blame was the last straw,” Eva Spivey, 25, of Avondale, Arizona, told CNN. “Racism is a one-sided thing.”
Trump tried to diminish the number of protesters outside the venue, by saying, “Just so you know from the Secret Service, there aren’t too many people outside protesting.”
His supporters chanted, “build the wall,” a reference to Trump’s promise to build a wall on the US border with Mexico, while some others were saying, “Make America great again.”
Some other people shouted “CNN sucks” “Shame on you” and “Tell the truth,” after Trump said the media were not honest.
Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, a Democrat, had asked the president to postpone the rally.
In the wake of Charlottesville, four in ten Americans support Trump’s impeachment and removal from office, according to a new poll.
The poll released Thursday by the Public Religion Research Institute found that 40 percent of Americans back impeaching Trump, compared to 30 percent who said the same in February.