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LGBT leaders decry Charlottesville rally, violence

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LGBT rights groups are among those who have condemned a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., on Saturday that descended into violence.

“The events in Charlottesville are shocking and heartbreaking. We call on leaders of all political parties to condemn hate and white supremacy,” Equality Utah executive director Troy Williams said in a statement. “To our [People of Color] friends and family, we love you and we stand with you. The United States is a nation that belongs to all people. We must live up to our country’s highest values. Liberty and Justice must be extended to All Americans.”

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin on Twitter wrote, “hate and bigotry on display in Charlottesville must be challenged wherever it rears its ugly head.”

“The violence we are witnessing is horrifying, but is merely the latest manifestation of the growing racist, anti-immigration, anti-Semitic, sexist and anti-LGBTQ hate in our midst. The continuing escalation of hate and white nationalist sentiment we are experiencing during the Trump administration has come to this – targeted violence in the streets of Virginia led by the Klu Klux Klan and Neo-Nazi organizations,” Stacey Long Simmons, Esq., Director of the Advocacy and Action Department of the National LGBTQ Task Force said in a statement. “The National LGBTQ Task Force will not stand by and watch the very fabric of this nation torn apart by hate. We will stand with our immigrant, Muslim, African-American, Latino, differently-abled and all marginalized people targeted by the hate and discrimination coming from all directions, from the White House to the streets of Charlottesville.”

The Associated Press reported one person died and 19 others were injured on Saturday when a car plowed into a group of counter-protesters in downtown Charlottesville.

White nationalists and counter-protesters clashed throughout the day in the city in which the University of Virginia is located. Reports indicate some of the white nationalists shouted anti-gay slurs as they marched through Charlottesville.

Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke said prior to the event that it represented fulfilling the promises of President Trump.

“This represents a turning point for the people of this country. We are determined to take our country back, we’re going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump, and that’s what we believed in, that’s why we voted for Donald Trump, because he said he’s going to take our country back and that’s what we gotta do,” Duke said.

Duke endorsed Trump during the 2016 presidential election.

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides,” President Trump told reporters during a press conference at his golf course in Bedminster, N.J. “It’s been going on for a long time in this country.”

Trump also called for a “swift restoration of law and order and the protection of innocent lives” in Charlottesville.

Griffin on Twitter said Trump has “emboldened this ugly hate and bigotry.”

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