Congress votes to call on Trump to denounce hate groups

Congress votes to call on Trump to denounce hate groups

By Alex Dobuzinskis

(Reuters) – The U.S. Congress passed a resolution late on Tuesday calling on President Donald Trump to condemn hate groups after Trump was criticized for his response to the violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, a month ago.

The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously adopted the resolution, U.S. Representative Gerry Connolly, a Democrat from Virginia, said in a statement. The Senate approved the measure on Monday.

“Tonight, the House of Representatives spoke in one unified voice to unequivocally condemn the shameful and hate-filled acts of violence carried out by the KKK (Ku Klux Klan), white nationalists, white supremacists and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville,” Connolly said.

The joint resolution, passed with the support of both Republicans and Democrats, will go to Trump for his signature.

Representatives for the White House did not respond immediately to an email seeking comment.

The Congressional resolution calls on Trump to condemn hate groups and what it describes as the growing prevalence of extremists who support anti-Semitism, xenophobia and white supremacy.

It also urges Attorney General Jeff Sessions to investigate acts of violence and intimidation by white nationalists, neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan and similar groups.

Trump alienated fellow Republicans, corporate leaders and U.S. allies and rattled markets last month with comments about the violence in Charlottesville, where white nationalists and neo-Nazis clashed with anti-racism activists on Aug. 12.

One woman, Heather Heyer, was killed and several people were wounded when a suspected white nationalist crashed his car into anti-racist demonstrators.

The Congressional resolution calls Heyer’s death a “domestic terrorist attack.” James Alex Fields, a 20-year-old Ohio man who authorities say drove into Heyer and other protesters, has been charged with second-degree murder and other criminal counts.

On Aug. 12, Trump denounced hatred and violence “on many sides,” a comment that drew sharp criticism from across the political spectrum for not condemning white nationalists.

White nationalists had gathered in Charlottesville to protest against the planned removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, who led the pro-slavery Confederacy’s army during the U.S. Civil War. Trump defended Confederate monuments last month.

At a rally in Phoenix on Aug. 22, Trump accused television networks of ignoring his calls for unity in the aftermath of the violence in Charlottesville.

“I didn’t say I love you because you’re black, or I love you because you’re white,” Trump said at the rally. “I love all the people of our country.”

The resolution also acknowledged the deaths of two Virginia State Police officers whose helicopter crashed as they patrolled the Charlottesville protest.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Paul Tait)

Indigenous Peoples Day replaces Columbus Day in Los Angeles

(Reuters) – Indigenous Peoples Day will be celebrated in Los Angeles instead of the traditional Columbus Day after city leaders in the second largest U.S. city decided to recognize Native Americans instead of the Italian explorer.

Los Angeles joined several U.S. cities and states, including Minneapolis, Seattle, Alaska, Hawaii and Oregon that have replaced Columbus Day, a federal holiday celebrated on the first Monday in October to commemorate the anniversary of Christopher Columbus arriving in the Americas in 1492.

The Los Angeles city council voted 14-1 on Wednesday to make the change to commemorate indigenous, aboriginal and native people.

“The historical record is unambiguous and today is a moment where we took a step that is righteous, that is just, that is heeling and that is historically clear,” Councilman Mitch O’Farrell said after the vote.

Support for Indigenous Peoples Day has steadily risen in recent years, paralleling the growing perception that the wave of European settlement in the Western Hemisphere was genocidal to native populations.

The vote came after a contentious debate unfolded between Italian Americans and Native Americans over Christopher Columbus’ place in history versus that of Native Americans who were slain or driven from their land.

“Why don’t you stop picking on Christopher Columbus as though you’re picking on our people,” Beverly Hills resident John Giovanni Corda told a crowd of supporters and opponents of the measure during the meeting, according to the Los Angeles Times. “We never hurt you. We never wanted to hurt you.”

The federal government and about half of U.S. states give public employees paid leave on Columbus Day, according to the Council of State Governments. Schools and government offices are generally closed, but many private businesses remain open.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)