The US president lands in New York to protests after his delayed response to a deadly white supremacist rally.

NYPD policemen stand guard as anti-Trump protesters gather in Manhattan in New York, U.S., August 14, 2017.
NYPD policemen stand guard as anti-Trump protesters gather in Manhattan in New York, U.S., August 14, 2017. (Reuters)

US President Donald Trump’s belated denunciation of white supremacists on Monday – about two days too late after a violent white nationalist rally in Charlottesville – has not pacified everyone.

Trump landed in New York late on Monday amid demonstrations, with protesters gathered on sidewalks chanting “F*** you Donald Trump, New York hates you.”

In Manhattan, thousands of demonstrators stood outside Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue shouting “No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA.”

This did not deter the US president from ignoring the protests and re-tweeting a known alt-right pro-Trump user's post attempting to change the narrative towards shootings in Chicago.

NYPD policemen stand guard as anti-Trump protesters gather in Manhattan in New York, US on August 14, 2017.
NYPD policemen stand guard as anti-Trump protesters gather in Manhattan in New York, US on August 14, 2017. (TRT World and Agencies)

About 500 protesters assembled in front of the White House for a Reject White Supremacy rally, then marched to Trump’s hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue nearby.  

And in Durham, North Carolina, protesters toppled a Confederate monument outside a court, kicking and stomping on the fallen statue.

In London, over 100 people demonstrated outside the US Embassy, some with placards reading “Fascism is not to be debated, it is to be smashed,” and “I am an ashamed American.”

The United Nations said there must be no place in today’s societies for the violent racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia and discrimination on display in Charlottesville.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel told broadcaster Phoenix on Monday that clear and forceful action must be taken to counter right-wing extremism, and that “we have quite a lot to do at home ourselves.”

Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier, a black man, was the first adviser who resigned from Trump’s American Manufacturing Council in the wake of Charlottesville. But he was not the only one. 

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich also quit the Council on Monday, becoming the latest executive to depart in the wake of Charlottesville.

Frazier's resignation was followed hours later by Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank. The AFL-CIO organised labour federation that represents 12.5 million workers said it, too, was considering pulling its representative from the committee.

What happened in Charlottesville?

A 20-year-old man said to have harboured Nazi sympathies was arrested on charges of ploughing his car into protesters opposing the white nationalists, killing 32-year-old paralegal Heather Heyer and injuring 19 people. The accused, James Fields, was denied bail at a court hearing on Monday.

Several others were arrested in connection with street brawls during the day that left another 15 people injured. And two airborne state troopers involved in crowd control were killed when their helicopter crashed.

Saturday’s disturbances erupted after white nationalists converged in Charlottesville, home of the University of Virginia’s flagship campus, to protest plans for removing a statue of General Robert E Lee, commander of the pro-slavery Confederate army of the US Civil War.

Who is Fields?

According to police records, Fields was previously accused of beating his mother and threatening her with a knife. In another incident in 2010, she said her son smacked her in the head and locked her in the bathroom after she told him to stop playing video games. There was no indication in the records that he was arrested.

Fields, described by a former high school teacher as an admirer of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany, was charged with second-degree murder.

A former classmate said that on a school trip to Europe in 2015, a teenage Fields couldn’t stand the French and said he only went on the trip so that he could visit “the Fatherland” – Germany.

“He just really laid on about the French being lower than us and inferior to us,” said Keegan McGrath.

McGrath, now 18, said he challenged Fields on his beliefs, and the animosity between them grew so heated that it came to a boil at dinner on their second day. He said he went home after three or four days because he couldn’t handle being in a room with Fields.

The incident shocked McGrath because he had been in German class with Fields for two unremarkable years.

“He was just a normal dude” most of the time, though he occasionally made “dark” jokes that put his class on edge, including one “offhand joke” about the Holocaust, McGrath said.

McGrath said Fields was no outcast: “He had friends. He had people who would chat with him.”

Failing to respond

Some 48 hours into the biggest domestic challenge of his young presidency, Trump tried to correct course in a statement to reporters at the White House on Monday, calling “racism, the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups” evil.

Critics denounced Trump for waiting too long to address the bloodshed, and for initially faulting hatred and violence “on many sides,” rather than singling out the white supremacists widely seen as instigating the melee.

Democrats said Trump’s reaction belied a reluctance to alienate white nationalists and “alt-right” political activists who occupy a loyal segment of Trump’s political base.

But not everyone was mollified.

“I wish that he would have said those same words on Saturday,” responded Democratic Senator Mark Warner of Virginia on MSNBC. “I’m disappointed it took him a couple of days.”

Several senators from his own Republican Party had harsh words for him.

A group of community leaders meeting in Charlottesville likewise said they were unimpressed by Trump’s latest message.

“Why did it take criticism from his Republican buddies to move him ... to adjust the moral compass that he does not possess?” said Don Gathers, who serves as chairman for the city’s commission on monuments and memorials.

Trump lashed out at his critics late on Monday on Twitter: “Made additional remarks on Charlottesville and realize once again that the #Fake News Media will never be satisfied ... truly bad people!”

Asked on Monday whether one side was more responsible for the violence than another in Charlottesville, Police Chief Al Thomas said: “This was an alt-right rally” – using the term that has become a banner for various far-right ideologies that includes neo-Nazis, white supremacists and anti-Semites.

The US Department of Justice was pressing its own federal investigation of the incident as a hate crime.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies