Following the deadly vehicular rampage that left a woman dead and scores more injured in Virginia during a “Unite the Right” rally, the U.S. federal government has started a civil rights investigation.
On Saturday night, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a statement, announcing the probe.
“The Richmond FBI Field Office, the Civil Rights Division, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia have opened a civil rights investigation into the circumstances of the deadly vehicular incident that occurred earlier Saturday morning,” Sessions stated. “The FBI will collect all available facts and evidence, and as this is an ongoing investigation we are not able to comment further at this time.”
Ohio man James Alex Fields Jr., 20, was charged with second-degree murder and a slew of other charges in connection with the deadly crash.
The “Unite the Right” rally was initiated to protest against the city of Charlottesville’s decision to take down Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s statue.
In the protest, white nationalists clashed with other protesters and police. Ex-KKK leader David Duke was reportedly in attendance, as was Richard Spencer, president of the National Policy Institute.
The violence was summarily condemned by Sessions and other Trump administration officials.
“When such actions arise from racial bigotry and hatred, they betray our core values and cannot be tolerated,” the attorney general said.
“I have talked with FBI Director Chris Wray, FBI agents on the scene, and law enforcement officials for the state of Virginia. The FBI has been supporting state and local authorities throughout the day,” Sessions said in a statement to numerous media outlets. “U.S. Attorney Rick Mountcastle has commenced a federal investigation and will have the full support of the Department of Justice. Justice will prevail.”
Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, told ABC’s “This Week” that it appears to be a terrorist attack.
“Any time that you commit an attack against people to incite fear, it is terrorism,” he said, adding that it’s also a “criminal act against fellow Americans.”
“The president has been very clear, we cannot tolerate this kind of bigotry, this kind of hatred. And what he did is he called on all Americans to take a firm stance against it,” said McMaster, according to USA Today.
Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter, tweeted on Sunday that “there should be no place in society for racism, white supremacy and neo-nazis.”
“We must all come together as Americans—and be one country UNITED,” Ivanka Trump added.
Ivanka and husband Jared Kushner are Orthodox Jews and they observe the Sabbath, which starts Friday night and runs through Saturday. They do not engage in social media on that day.
During a press conference at his New Jersey golf course on Saturday, President Trump condemned the violence.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides,” Trump said. “It’s been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. This has been going on for a long, long time,” he added.