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Woman Killed In Crash Identified As 32-Year-Old Heather Heyer; Charlottesville Churchgoer To Trump:" We're Hurting"; Man Confronts White supremacist Rally Organizer; Suspect's Mother: I Thought Son Was Going To Trump Rally; Tensions High In Charlottesville After Violent Protests; Trump Blasted For Failure To Condemn White supremacists; Ivanka Tweets Strong Condemnation Of Violence In Virginia>. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired August 13, 2017 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Promises (ph) later just in the last -- thanks very much for joining us. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. Fredricka Whitfield is off.
Charlottesville, Virginia on edge, once again right now as protestors shouted down a white supremacist leader just in the last hour trying to hold a press conference. Our Brian Todd is on the scene. First, we need the very latest from him in just a moment. We also just learned the identity of the woman killed in that horrific car assault. She is 32-year-old Heather Heyer, a paralegal from Virginia.
Also today, the Department of Justice here in Washington formally opening an investigation into the deadly assault, and the violent clashes that have left more than 30 people injured. Many of them remain in critical condition right now. Today, Virginia's governor, Terry McAuliffe, issued a very stern message to those violent protestors.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. TERRY MCAULIFFE (D), VIRGINIA: To the white supremacists and neo-Nazis who came to our beautiful state yesterday, there is no place for you here in Charlottesville. There is no place for you in Virginia. And there is no place for you in the United States of America.
MCAULIFFE: We deplore your hatred, your bigotry and shame on you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: I want to bring in CNN Rosa Flores who's on the scene first with Charlottesville right now. Rosa, first of all, tell us more about this victim you were at a memorial for Heather Heyer a little while ago. What are you learning about this young woman, only 32- years-old? ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Wolf, we are learning more about Heather Heyer. We know that she's 32-years-old and she was just from up the road from about 17 miles from Ruckersville, Virginia. And she worked here in Charlottesville. She worked at the bankruptcy department of a law firm as a paralegal.
In other words, she helped people find a new financial future. But I want to you have look behind me, because this is the street where a car plowed into a group of protestors. And, of course, now we know that Heather Heyer has died from those injuries, and 19 other people were injured.
Now, the latest that we're hearing from hospitals is that ten of those people are still in good condition and they are at the hospital. Nine others have been discharged. Now, you can see that this memorial is growing and the outpouring support from this community has been growing all morning, people bringing in flowers and messages.
Now, earlier today, we were at a church service where Governor Terry McAuliffe spoke bluntly about the individuals involved here calling them white supremacist and saying that this is an exhibition of hate and that these people do not belong in this city and in this state. And the congregation there taking his words very seriously.
But here is what they did not like, the congregation didn't like the message from the President of the United States. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAVOLA MONROE, MT. ZION CONGREGANT: The message that was sent out from number 45 was very much inadequate. I didn't feel that had compassion. I didn't feel it spoke for, not only people of color but for anyone that are going through, people that are suffering. I think he divides and doesn't bring us together.
And the biggest part for me, the man just has no compassion, period. It really hurts. You know? More should have been said. You need to call it in what it is and stop playing around with it. Call it out. We're hurting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FLORES: And as you take another live look here, that is the photo of Heather Heyer brought here to this memorial that keeps growing, Wolf, as the day goes by. There's been a lot of people coming here in solidarity with a lot of pain, a lot of grief. Of course, asking for the support not only from this town and from this city, but from around the country. Wolf?
BLITZER: A wonderful young woman killed, brutally killed in that horrific car assault. Rosa Flores, thanks very much. Tomorrow the suspect in that car assault in Charlottesville, Virginia, will face a judge. That man now charged with second-degree murder, 20-year-old James Alex Fields Jr. from Ohio.
The man's mother saying, her son drove from Ohio to Charlottesville to take part in that rally, that she thought had something to do with president Trump. That's what the mother said. Let's go to CNN's Brian Todd. He's covering all the late-breaking developments force in Charlottesville. Brian, there was also a confrontation that occurred just a little while ago. Tell us about that.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Wolf. It's a real illustration of just the escalating and percolating tensions here in Charlottesville that still exist a day after that rally.
[15:05:02] At this point where I'm standing, just moments ago, the organizer of that white supremacists rally, the Unite the Right" rally, his name is Jason Kessler. He appeared right here at the spot. He wanted to hold a news conference right here and the shadow of city hall here in Charlottesville.
There are microphones set up. There were counter protestors over here chanting, when Jason Kessler came out, he stood here for several minutes and started to talk into the microphones. Nobody could really hear what he said, because people were screaming at him, drowning him out. There are musical instruments being played to drown him out, then either the media or the crowd or both started to kind of get closer to Kessler and almost converge on him.
We're not clear about what exactly happened that caused him to go down. He either fell or was pushed down. But at that point, the police quickly converged on the scene. Riot police in full riot gear got him out of here around that corner, around the building and into safety, inside the police department which is just kind of on the other side of this same building.
So I believe, we have some tape of that now that is showing some of that. As I walk down here, toward a protest that's still going on. These are a group of counter protestors behind me that are still here and chanting some things and making some speeches. Again, illustrating their real anger at the fact that Jason Kessler is still in this town, even after the governor and the mayor told him and all of his followers, get out of town. We don't want you here.
He comes back here this afternoon to hold a news conference. He's drowned out. He falls. He gets taken out of here by the cops. And then you got a lot of angry people still here. A photojournalist, Rodolfo Obara (ph) is coming with me down here. There seems to be -- some tension here now. Some people yelling at each other. And chanting things, and confronting the police.
I'll just try to get a look and see what's going on here. They seem to be shouting down a man over here. So -- there are -- there are police around us and we're going see how this plays out, but it seems to be a little more than a shouting match here, Wolf. But again, an illustration here of the enormous tension that has just converged upon Charlottesville yesterday, today, even back to Friday night with that torch march on the university of Virginia campus, Wolf.
We also have some tape of the actual car crash, which really escalated the situation yesterday. That horrible car crash where suspect, James Alex Fields allegedly plowed into a group of protestors who were walking on 4th street just a short way from me here, killing that 32- year-old woman Heather Heyer, injuring several other people, striking other vehicles.
Here's a look at some of the tape that we had put together about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: All right and we still got some angry protestors behind me here chanting at each other, yelling at each other, yelling at the police. The police, and you can see a lot of police over here just kind of watching them.
Again, not nearly what we saw yesterday, but still illustrating the tension here, Wolf. A lot of people in this town still very angry, they want the white supremacists out. Jason Kessler didn't get out. He came back here a moments ago and this is what has happen since then.
BLITZER: All right, Brian, and we're going to stay in very, very close touch with you. You'll watch developments for us. We'll get back to you soon. Brian Todd, on the scene for us.
Earlier this morning, the mayor of Charlottesville was speaking out. He says he's holding the president of the United States responsible at least in part for the violence in his city as part of his interview on CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION WITH JAKE TAPPER".
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAKE TAPPER, STATE OF THE UNION WITH JAKE TAPPER ANCHOR: You said, you place blame for these terrifying events quote right at the doorstep of the White House and the people around the president, unquote. That's a strong charged to level. Why do you think the president himself bears responsibility?
MICHAEL SIGNER, MAYOR, CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA: Well look at the campaign he ran. I mean, look at the intentional courting both on the one hand of all of these white supremacist, white nationalist, group like that, anti-Semitic groups. And then look, on the other hand, the repeated failure to step up, condemn, denounce, silence, you know, put to bed all of those different efforts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: This comes on the heels of growing backlash over the president's failure specifically condemn white supremacists after the deadly attack. Meanwhile, some top members of the Republican Party aren't holding back in their condemnation. The House Speaker Paul Ryan, the Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell, senators Marco Rubio, Rob Portman, among many others, they are speaking out specifically against the bigotry and hatred of the white supremacist groups.
[15:10:01] While the president faces tough criticism over his response to the attack, his homeland security advisers in the White House Tom Bossert says the president's message called for respect and love among Americans.
I want to bring in our White House correspondent Athena Jones. She's bringing us from Bridgewater, New Jersey, not far from where the president is spending his working vacation. First of all, do we know what the president is doing today? Athena, a beautiful Sunday up in New Jersey?
ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf. Not so far. No word on what the president is doing. In fact, the press pool, the small pool of reporters assigned to follow him today isn't even supposed to gather for several more hours. We've asked several times whether he's golfing. No word on that. It is a beautiful day for golf but we don't have any word on that.
We also haven't heard anything more from the president about this issue, Charlottesville, and what happened there, or any other issue at all today. But we did hear from the president's daughter Ivanka Trump who is, of course, one of his senior advisers, she took to twitter several hours ago tweeting this morning, "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."
We also heard a couple hours after that from a White House official, who wouldn't give their name, but putting out a statement that went further than what we heard from the president yesterday. Here is that statement from the White House official, "The president said very strongly in his statement yesterday that he condemns all forms of violence, bigotry and hatred and of course that includes white supremacists, KKK, neo-Nazi and all extremist groups." He called for national unity and bringing all Americans together.
And, of course, Wolf, we have been stressing this point that we haven't heard those kinds of words coming from the president himself. Despite the fact this he is the president who has been passionate about criticizing a long list of people, whether they are republicans or democrats. From Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell, Senator John McCain, a whole long list.
He gets called the media, the enemy of the people, but what groups he has not criticized explicitly are white nationalists, white supremacists, the KKK, et cetera. So a lot of those want to hear these tough words from the president directly. Wolf?
BLITZER: Have they explained, White House officials, maybe even, you know, on background, what the president meant when he condemned in his words, in the strongest possible terms, the egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides. The words on many sides, what did he mean by that?
JONES: Well we asked that question repeatedly yesterday and didn't get a response from a White House official. Essentially doubling down on what the president said. The statement from that official was along the lines. The president condemned the hatred, bigotry and violence from all sources and all forms.
And point, this is what this official pointed out that there was violence from the counter protestors and the protestors. And that is true. There was an outbreak of violence in -- with the demonstrators and counter-demonstrators, but this idea that all sides are responsible for the hatred and bigotry that was on display, that is something that a lot of folks have taken issue with saying that the president is drawing -- is equating the KKK and the Neo-Nazis and white supremacist with the people who are out in the streets demonstrating against that kind of racism and hatred. Wolf?
BLITZER: And republican senator Cory Gardner of Colorado, he specifically calling out the president in pointed words. Tell our viewers what he's saying.
JONES: Well, let's go ahead and play what senator Gardner had to say about this on "STATE OF THE UNION" this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CORY GARDNER (R), FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: Well, this is not a time for vagaries, this isn't the time for any innuendo or to allow room to be read between the lines. This is a time to lay blame, to lay blame on bigotry, to lay blame on white supremacists on white nationals and on hatred.
And that needs to be said. This president has done an incredible job of naming terrorism around the globe as evil. A radical Islamic terrorism whether it's in Europe or the Middle East. He has said and called it out time and time again. And this president needs to do exactly that today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: And you heard Senator Gardner say the president needs to come out and do that today. As I said, Wolf, we have no news of any plan statement from the president. We haven't heard anything from the president about this or any other issue today. And I should point out that Gardner is not alone. He is one of the first people who took to twitter yesterday. I believe we have that tweet directing his message directly at the president saying, Mr. President, we must call evil by its name.
These were white supremacists and this was domestic tear original. Gardner joined several other republicans who have called on the president to be tougher. And Wolf, what's remind our viewer is one reason that this is so important.
[15:15:01] And that is that as a candidate, candidate Trump got a lot of support from the so-called Alt-Right, or white nationalist movement. He was endorsed by the likes of David Duke, the former grand wizard of the KKK. And he has been hesitant to outwardly denounce these groups. Soon after his election, his president-elect in November he, gave an interview to the "New York Times" where he said he didn't want to energize this Alt-Right movement that he'd been disavowed them. But haven't been forceful and he hasn't repeated that disavow recently at all.
This is, of course, someone who will repeatedly criticize people over and over on twitter, but he hasn't had the same harsh rhetoric when it comes to these white nationalists and white supremacist groups. Wolf?
BLITZER: So basically, if the president is ready to clarify, make an additional statement, there are T.V., there are crews there. There's a pool of reporters. He could go out within a few minutes. He could make that statement.
JONES: Absolutely. We're standing by.
BLITZER: But from what I hear from you, Athena, White House officials have not given you any indication he's about to do that?
JONES: Right. Exactly, Wolf. But we are always here and ready in case he wants to.
BLITZER: Oh let's hope he does. All right, Athena Jones, thanks very much.
Our next guest is Brendan Gilmore, went to the Charlottesville area to protest against the white supremacists, the actually eyewitness to deadly car assault. He posted on twitter these words, he said, let there be no confusion, this was deliberate terrorism.
Brendan is joining us now. Brendan, thanks very much for joining us. You saw the moment that car plowed into that crowd killing that one young woman. Describe what you saw.
BRENNAN GILMORE, WITNESSED CAR STRIKING A CROWD: Thank you, Wolf. I was here to protests against the Nazis that came to town with their hateful ideology. After the main protests had broken up, we moved to a side street and there was a peaceful non-violence march taking place with fellow protestors against racism.
They were coming up a very narrow street in Charlottesville arm to arm. I was videotaping them as they were marching and when I heard from behind me a car accelerating very fast down the street I pulled back and filmed the video many have seen now.
The car is deliberately targeting, lining up, and then gunning the engine to do maximum damage on the crowd. He smashed into the crowd. Bodies went flying and then reverse to make his escape sending people scurrying out of the way.
BLITZER: And the crowd in which this car plowed into that crowd, these were all, correct me if I'm wrong, whatever calling, this counter-protestors. People were out there to make it clear. They didn't want white supremacists or neo-Nazis in Charlottesville? Is that right?
GILMORE: That's correct.
BLITZER: Was there any indication in advance something like this could happen? Were you given warning, any indication, to be careful?
GILMORE: Absolutely. This scene was very tense in Charlottesville. And, of course, it was violence that had broken out in the main protest site here in town. I was quite concerned that the situation was going to get violent as the day went on. Particularly, because of the amount of weapons that they had is nazis, to these militias who are protecting them and who are addressed as regular security forces.
You had private security forces, and others who were carrying weapons now very worried that there would be a breakout of gun violence. Luckily we were saved that. Unfortunately, we want to say, this terrorist attack by a motorist member of a group whose ideology is based on violence.
So hatred filled the ideology that would deny certain classes of citizens their right to exist. They're the basic fundamental rights. Another, we don't doubt that these folks came to Charlottesville intent on spurring violence which is a key part of who they are.
BLITZER: How close were you, Brennan, to the actual car assault?
GILMORE: I was about an arm's length away from the car. I jumped out of the way. I was in the middle of the street, pulled back when it went by. I got a clear vision of the driver's head. He had unfortunately tinted windows so I couldn't clearly see him except that he was a white male. Yes, he narrowly missed me and then went and I witnessed something that no one should have to see.
BLITZER: Were any of your friends hit by that car?
GILMORE: I don't believe any of my close friends were hit by the cars, just the brothers and sisters in solidarity with standing up to these racists who have absolutely no place in our society.
BLITZER: As you know, president Trump, he condemned hate and bigotry but he failed to specifically call out the white nationalists, the neo-Nazis. I want you to listen to this for a moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides. On many sides.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: What were your thoughts after you heard this from the president and after specifically seeing the violence firsthand?
[15:20:02] GILMORE: I think the president's had a failure of leadership. I prefer the statement of former Vice President Joe Biden made. And that is that there were one side here. There is a side of right. There's a side of justice. There was a side of love. And on the other side, we had hatred-filled group who was intent on violence. And there can't be any seat for this kind of violence at the table.
BLITZER: Brennan Gilmore, fortunately you're OK. Thanks so much for joining us.
GILMORE: Thank you Wolf.
BLITZER: The vice mayor of Charlottesville is urging us to do the stand together against all the hate groups. We're going hear him in his own words when he joins us. That's coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SIGNER: I hope that the facts were there that we vigorously prosecute. This is a case of domestic terrorism. This cannot be tolerated in our free society. We stand on the rule of law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: That was the mayor of Charlottesville, Virginia Michael Signer on CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION WITH JAKE TAPPER" earlier today speaking on those violent protests in Virginia yesterday.
[15:25:06] This is why the Department of Justice here in Washington opens a formal civil rights investigation into the circumstances surrounding the car that plowed into that crowd of protestors killing a 32-year-old paralegal from Charlottesville, Virginia. Heather Heyer, 32-years-old.
Also this morning, the White House Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert said both he and president Trump want the suspect to face quotes swift justice. Bossert defending president Trump's statement on the deadly rally in which he condemned violence, on quote many, many sides.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: How many people did the counterprotestors kill yesterday, Mr. Bossert?
TOM BOSSERT, WHITE HOUSE HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER: Well, I'll tell you, one death is too many, Jake.
TAPPER: But that wasn't by --
TAPPER: She was -- the victim was a counter-protestors. The victim was a counter-protestor.
BOSSERT: I don't -- hold on one moment, Jake. I don't for one minute, I don't for one moment and I won't allow you for one second to put me in a position of being an apologist for somebody who is now charged murderer. This individual should face swift justice.
The president of United States shares that view. I know he does. I share that view deeply and I don't want to be put in a position. I won't allow you to put or him in position of not finding that justice as quickly as possible.
TAPPER: You just decried both sides.
BOSSERT: I think that you should (INAUDIBLE) for a moment.
TAPPER: You just decried both sides.
BOSSERT: Well, I think --
TAPPER: Think the situation, Mr. Bossert.
TAPPER: Where neo-Nazis, the Klan, Alt-Right and others went to Charlottesville, Virginia, chanting anti-semitic, anti-African- American and other anti-racists slogans provoking the people of Charlottesville, Virginia.
TAPPER: Making them feel intimidated. Yes, violence did break out. One person killed by one of these Alt-Right, Klan, Nazi protestors and you just decried both sides of this, and this is the issue.
BOSSERT: No, I didn't. No. No, I didn't. And you're making this issue a little bit distorted. So what I would decry is the individual that committed murder yesterday. What I would do though, is quibble with this notion that any of this is acceptable. These groups showed up spewing hate. These groups showed up looking for violence.
TAPPER: What groups?
BOSSERT: So I think it's just important for people to understand.
TAPPER: What groups are you referring to?
BOSSERT: Of course the groups that showed -- well, I refer to the groups that clashed yesterday. I think it was pretty graphically evident.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Tom Bossert speaking with Jake Tapper on "STATE OF THE UNION" earlier today. Tom Bossert, the president Homeland Security Adviser. My next guest is the vice mayor of Charlottesville, Virginia. Wes Bellamy is joining us now. Vice mayor, thanks very much for joining us.
WES BELLAMY, VICE MAYOR, CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA: Thank you for having me, sir. BLITZER: Let me first express all of our deep condolences for what has taken place in your beautiful community. How is your community, vice mayor, responding to the horrific incident that we all saw yesterday?
BELLAMY: Well, before I get started I'd like to express my deepest condolences to those who lost family members over the weekend. For that I am truly saddened, really sorry about all of that, and I'm hoping that our community can rally around not only these white supremacist domestic terror attacks, but making sure that we stand together.
Now when you asked, how is my community doing? I think it's a tale of two cities. I think yesterday people were rather sad because of everything that was going on, angry, upset. But on the other hand, I literally saw 150 book bags, handed to people throughout the community by a group of young black men and young black women at the Charlottesville park which is a park within the traditional African- American community, they have free food, they have music, they gave back.
They make sure that the community was well squared and taken care of and that representing Charlottesville Not the Ku Klux Klans, not this white supremacy school so to started, they can come here and think they can intimidate us because it doesn't work. But what we are a community that's resilient. We stand together and we will be better because of this. I can guarantee and I bet my life on it. We will survive this and we will be all right. I know it.
BLITZER: As you know, some of these white supremacist groups, this neo-Nazi groups. They're expected to continue making themselves visible there in Charlottesville. In fact, throughout the week and weeks to come, they say, is there a plan to have a larger police presence during what are expected to be more of these protests? So what do you think?
BELLAMY: Well, I'm sure that these individuals are going to want to come back and mask their hate and what they describe as free speech, but we will be prepared. I understand that we are going to have, again, more protests, more people who want to come, but Charlottesville isn't the only city that will facing this issue. This has become a nationwide issue when you see this white supremacist text under the guidance of their president number 45.
[15:30:03] They may have empowered and embodied but we a re not going to tolerate. They we're not going to stand for it. They can continue to come but our community will not break.
Again, the people here of Charlottesville, white people, black people, yellow people, old people, young people, we're a community that rallies around together. This is a community that I saw pick me up on my darkest and deepest moments to encourage me and they've done the same thing for other people.
We're a resilient group and sometimes we may get knocked down, but we always stand back up. That's who Charlottesville is, and that's who we're going to continue to be.
Now, I hope that 45 will come out and condemn these white supremacist groups. I saw -- heard he was listening right before this, he's a -- the individuals in his cabinet refuse to call them what they are, white supremacist groups. Our governor has done so and we're calling on every elected official throughout the country to condemn these actions, as well as condemn these white supreme -- excuse me, these white supremacy groups and let them know that this will not be tolerated.
BLITZER: And when you say 45, you mean President Trump. What specifically, Vice Mayor, do you want to hear him say?
BELLAMY: I want him to condemn the white supremacist groups. I don't know if I can be any clearer than that. He came out with a statement yesterday what I thought was nowhere near where it should be talking about we've had these issues forever. Water is wet.
We know we've had these issues forever. We know we had them for a long time. We know that it's going to take us all to come together. We're working on that.
But what we need him to do from the highest office of the land is to come out and condemn them. Again, when you have an individual like David Duke, leader of the Ku Klux Klan, come out and say that they are here to fulfill the dream and the promise from their president, what more do you need to hear?
`He needs to denounce these individuals if he wants to truly bring this country together. I assure you that we're doing everything that we can here in Charlottesville and I know others are doing things in other places.
And look, I want to be clear. No one's perfect. I've done things in my past that I'm not proud of, but we grow from them. And this is an opportunity for our president to grow in the leader he needs to be in that office.
So 45, we're looking for your leadership. Condemn the white supremacist attacks, condemn these domestic terrorists. Tell them to leave. You're their leader. Stand up.
BLITZER: You're referring to some of the criticism the attacks you've received for some racist, homophobic viewpoints for many years. Tell viewers about that. What your response has been, how you learned from that?
BELLAMY: Sure. So I mean, I have no qualms, we're talking about the issues that I've had when I was 22, 23, 24 years old, but that's part of the reason why I love this city. Last year, we addressed the streets from before and I apologized to the entire city and again I thanked this city for helping me grow into the young man that I am today.
I'm no longer the 22-year-old somewhat ignorant young man that I was once before. I'm a 30-year-old father, a husband of three, community leader. A person who works with all kinds of communities, where there's LGBTQ, white people, Asian people, whoever. I teach kids from all different communities in different shades and socioeconomic status.
And much of that is attributed to the people here. This isn't a joke, this isn't a game. We've mature a great deal and I've grown a lot because of the people here. And that's why I believe that this city is so resilient. That's why I know that we will survive this because the people here are not going to tolerate it.
But again, I'm not here to place blame on anyone. What I'm just looking for is simple leadership because our community is going to heal. Our community will move forward but will the country be able to do the same? And that's what we're hoping for.
BLITZER: One final question Vice Mayor before I let you go. What's going to happen to that confederate statue of Robert E. Lee in your community, supposed go down but I take it it's under litigation right now, what's the status?
BELLAMY: Yes. So it's under litigation right now. We'll be going to court to hear from our local judge to render his ruling in regards to whether or not he believes that we have the rights to be able to move it or not. But I hope everyone can see that this is more than just about a statue. These white supremacists are using the statue to mask their hate and come down here to do what they want to do in order to invoke fear.
And if that is the rallying point, you're seeing now on several different several occasions. Richard Spencer brought his group of minions here to have a (INAUDIBLE) rally with Tiki torches from Walmart because they thought that would scare us. Then you have these (INAUDIBLE) from Unite the Right come down here yesterday with their mob mentality, and they think that they can scare us. And now the other groups, we have the Ku Klux Klan come and tried to do the same thing.
So, I'm hoping that our judges as well as the state can see people are using the statute as a way to spread their hate and it needs to be moved. We cannot be a city of inequity, inclusion and inequality with he 28th ((INAUDIBLE) statue to a person who, if was still -- if he was alive while I'm in this position right now, would probably want me beaten, who wouldn't want to look him in the eye.
I've been told from all these people that they want to hang me from a tree and they're going to do this and that. In my opinion, that statue needs removed because it doesn't represent their heritage that some are saying but it represents more of hate.
And in this city, this is not a hateful one, this is an equitable one. Unless we're getting to move it, so let's move it.
[15:35:04] BLITZER: It's a home of a great world-class university, the University of Virginia as well.
BELLAMY: Indeed. BLITZER: Wes Bellamy, the vice mayor of Charlottesville. Thanks very much for joining us.
BELLAMY: Dr. Bellamy, but thank you.
BLITZER: Thank you so much.
We're going to go back to Charlottesville in just a moment to take a closer look at exactly what the white supremacist groups there are up to right now. Who's protesting? What their message of hate is all about? Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: INAUDIBLE) people are bleeding everywhere. They were doing chest compressions on a body.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People left the car because they thought it was a cop car. So he was slow and then he slammed on the gas right into people that we're in front of another car. But most people were just in a state of shock.
We saw what happened but to really realize that somebody possibly died right in front of us.
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BLITZER: President Trump condemned hate and bigotry, quote, on many sides after the deadly violence in Charlottesville but he failed to specifically call out the white supremacists. Today, a White House official release a statement saying, quote, the president said very strongly in a statement yesterday that he condemns all forms of violence, bigotry and hatred and, of course that includes white supremacist, KKK, neo-Nazi and all extremist groups.
Joining us now, CNN Sara Sidner. Sara, lots of groups are out there. Walk us through these various groups, because you've been doing some serious reporting on all of them.
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we've been going across the country talking to people who have been affected by hate and people who actually perpetrate hateful acts. And it is really disturbing to see that those numbers are going up. There are more hate incidents now since Donald Trump has become president.
That has across the board been reported out by several different organizations that actually follow hate. And let me go through a little bit of who these groups are, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
If you take a look at some of these groups and what they believe and you will see just how hateful they are. Now, this is the white nationalist, white supremacist if you will. They support white supremacist ideologists, some are openly using racial slurs to incite violence. Other parts of the groups claim that they're not violent but they still spew this hatred.
[15:40:02] And then there are different categories that you will be familiar with, the whole world knows about the KKK, the neo-Nazis and neo-Confederate.
Then you have the ultimate right or the Alt-Right or the Alternative Right if you will. This an interesting group because it has a couple of different facets. The Alt-Right for the most part according to the Southern Poverty Law Center has a core belief about white identity being under attack by multicultural forces, or white genocide. You'll hear that word which by the way is not a reality.
It talks about focusing on preservation of western civilization and particularly European civilization. And it coins -- the name was coined by Richard Spencer who is head of a white nationalist think tank. During his speech right after President Trump became president, he had this speech saying that we have won and he used Nazi words saying, hail Trump, hail victory and people came up and did the Nazi salute. So he's certainly has used some neo-Nazi language as he's trying to rile up his base.
And then we have the anti-fascists. They are not considered a hate group, they were created in 1930s as a reaction to Nazism. They resurfaced recently over the last few years because of this global nationalist movement, and they target racism, fascism and Nazism.
One part of this group known at the black bloc targets people and ideas, but they also go out and protest and they can be destructive, violent acts. We've seen a lot of that here on the West Coast at Berkeley, University of Berkeley, for example. You're seeing that play out, and they're known as black block and they often are very destructive.
I want to talk a little bit about the numbers here because if you look across the board since November, since the election of Donald Trump there has been a spike in hate incidents, not hate crimes, hate incidents. Things like recruitment, going to college campuses and putting posters, for example, all over campuses.
This particular event in Charlottesville, Virginia was for recruitment. There is no doubt about it. Going out with those tiki torches and trying to show people that there are hundreds of people like us who believe in white identity. It was to get people to look and see that there are a lot of people and to say, hey, maybe I can join as well. They are looking to recruit and they're looking to recruit young people, Wolf.
BLITZER: So you're reporting on all of this based on all the organizations that monitor these kinds of hate groups. We're seeing more of these white supremacist protests right now than in years' past, is that right?
SIDNER: That's absolutely correct, Wolf. We were in Houston, for example and, you know, this didn't get reported in the national media. There was a very similar protest. You had hundreds of people show up to protest the possibility that a Sam Houston statue in Houston was going to be taken down. He's from the times of the Civil War and the confederacy. And you'll see there, those flags that are flying are vanguard, they were also in Charlottesville.
And you see those posters. Those posters that have been put all over some universities, trying to, again, recruit people. But what was interesting about this particular situation, this protest is that there were two parts of it. There were these guys that you're seeing there with the confederate flag, and the vanguard flag which is a neo- Nazi or racist group.
And then there was another part of this group that said, we don't want you to be a part of us. We are Alt-Right or Alt-Light, if you will. We don't believe in your extremist views. We do want to save or confederate statues, and so they pushed out -- this group here pushed out the white supremacists and said we don't want you around.
So there is a schism happening in the Alt-Right. You have some people who have very deeply racist and neo-Nazi views and you have some people who say, look, we're just worried about globalism and we're non-violent. And there's definitely a schism and a fight happening within the Alt-Right. Wolf?
BLITZER: Sara Sidner, doing excellent reporting for us as she always does. Thank you very, very much.
Still ahead, very strong criticism from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle for the White House response to the events in Charlottesville. Did President Trump's statement go far enough? How does it compare to how previous presidents have responded to similar events? We have our experts standing by to weigh in.
[15:48:21] BLITZER: Grief and shock in Charlottesville, Virginia, today after a car plowed into crowd during a white supremacist rally and counter rally on Saturday. Some are calling the car ramming into domestic terrorism (INAUDIBLE). This day will be remembered, just a few of the front pages from newspapers around the country. One reading, quote, A Day of Death, another, quote, Terror in Virginia.
Joining us now to discuss, CNN's political analyst Julian Zelizer, and our presidential historian, Tim Naftali. Tim, how does this compared to some other major challenges the country has faced over the years?
TIMOTHY NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, I think this is a potentially an infliction point for one of the country's two main political parties. The GOP has to think hard about its ideology, its identity. It appears there are members of college Republican groups that were marching with the white supremacists. May have been among them or with the neo-Nazis.
So the question is, the future of the GOP. That makes this an extraordinarily important moment. It's also a painful moment. It's one of those moments when we seek from our leaders a sense that we need to heal. We want words of healing.
Those we didn't get yesterday. Among many reasons why President Trump's statement was considered so lacking. It was that he didn't really lead us towards healing, because he refused to face facts about the nature of the challenge to American civilization that happened in Charlottesville.
BLITZER: As you know, Julian, the president is being widely criticized for that in initial reaction to the violence in Charlottesville. He condemned all sides or what he called many sides of this.
[15:50:09] Some people are comparing this to former President Obama's reaction when he tweeted a Nelson Mandela, quote, no one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or background or religion. People must learn to hate. If they can learn to hate they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than it's opposite.
So, how do you compare these reactions?
JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: There is no comparison. Barack Obama, the first African-American president who spent much of his time or a lot of time campaigning for social justice, for racial justice, making the statement is very different than the president of the united states who has had this ongoing criticism of failing to take strong words or use strong words about the Alt-Right and white nationalist groups that have supported him.
Him not saying anything is very different. I think back to Lyndon Johnson who saw white extremists and police attack African-Americans in March of 1965 for voting rights, marching for voting rights, and he delivered a powerful speech to Congress. Not only in which he said this was wrong but he put himself on the side of the civil rights protesters.
BLITZER: Our contributor, Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker magazine, Tim, he said and I am quoting him now, he said, today is by far the most disgraceful day of Donald Trump's presidency. What's your reaction? What's your thought?
NAFTALI: Well, my thought is that it was a disgraceful day for our country, but I will -- I would like to be hopeful. I would like to focus on the great words of people like Senator Orin Hatch and Senator Marco Rubio and Senator Sherrod Brown from two parties who responded the way Americans come to expect their leaders to respond.
I think the really great test now is the extent to which other leaders, faith leaders of our faith communities, leaders in Congress, leaders in business respond in this vacuum created by the absence of more leadership from Donald Trump. We don't have to wait for our president.
And in fact, I doubt he will say what everyone would like him to say. But we are Americans anyway. We don't need the president to say the right thing if he is incapable of it. We can all say the right thing. So what I'm looking for in the next few days is the extent to which a lot of other leaders just step up from both parties or from no party and show what American spirit is, and the fact that for all of us or most of us, white supremacy and neo-Nazism is beyond the pail, is unacceptable. It maybe legal but it is not right.
BLITZER: Julian, in contrast to her father, Ivanka Trump's response to the Charlottesville violence was very direct. She tweeted this. "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."
I'm surprised that the president hasn't simply retweeted his own daughter's tweet. That would be so simple for him to do so. He retweets a lot of stuff. He doesn't retweet that important message from his own daughter.
ZELIZER: Look, the last few hours will be remembered for the silences from President Trump. Whether it's his decision not to retweet very strong message from his daughter. Whether it is his decision not to use the words as Tim is saying that everyone is waiting for him to say. And whether it's his ongoing reluctance to just forcefully separate and reject himself -- and separate from white extremism.
That's the silence that we are hearing. And this is not a president who's silent. He attacks television hosts. He has gotten us in a very heated situation with North Korea right now because of his tweets.
So if he doesn't say something, I think we have to assume there's a logic to it. And that silence is what we're discussing right now.
BLITZER: You would think, you know, Tim, it would be very personal for the president. Ivanka Trump, his daughter is Jewish, his son-in- law, Jared Kushner is Jewish. His grandchildren are Jewish. And all the anti-Semitism, you saw the neo-Nazis who showed up there, the KKK, if you will. You would think, you know, he would have a natural instinct as father and grandfather to go out there and condemn it.
[15:55:00] NAFTALI: I have a hard time even addressing that question without being emotional. I don't know what to say, Wolf. I do not understand how it takes any courage whatsoever in 2017 to be anti-neo- Nazi. I don't understand it.
But I think that is an issue between the president and his God. I don't know -- do not know what is motivating him.
I will say this, though, it is unconscionable that we have a president at this point who is so concerned about ever being in the wrong that he doesn't correct himself. You notice with North Korea, he doubled down. He said fire and fury again even though people in the State Department and the Defense Department had to clean up that phrase.
The president is someone we have seen who does not want to correct himself, does not want to ever be in the wrong and sure as heck doesn't want to listen to pundits. So I don't anticipate him changing the rhetoric he uses which is a darn shame.
And I wished and I had hoped that he would think twice about a way in which he has responded to the anti-Semitism among other things, and racism that was implicit and explicit in Charlottesville. But, you know, at a certain point, you have to stop waiting and realize you move on and you realize there's a moral vacuum in the White House.
BLITZER: He does have a chance. There are T.V. crews, reporters there in New Jersey right now, if he wants to go out and make a statement, we'll of course have live coverage of that.
Tim Naftali, Julian Zelizer, guys, thanks very much. An important conversation indeed.
And I want all our viewers to stay with us as the breaking news coverage continues. We're going to go back live to Charlottesville, Virginia. We're learning more about the victim Heather Heyer, the very latest and what we know about her and what's happening on the ground. Stay with us.
BLITZER: We're following the breaking news. We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington, Fredricka Whitfield is off.
Charlottesville, Virginia, once again, on edge just --