Updated Post 10 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 16:
President Donald Trump doubled down on his initial remarks about the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, at a presser Tuesday afternoon, and two more Idaho politicians have weighed in, as well.
During what The New York Times called a "combative exchange" between the president and reporters, Trump said he believes "there is blame on both sides," adding, "You had a group on one side that was bad. You had group on the other side that was also very violent." His comments have intensified a firestorm over the absence of strong and explicit condemnation of white nationalists, including neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan, in his original remarks made Saturday.
Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter also weighed in Tuesday with a Facebook post reminding Idahoans the Gem State has scored victories in the past over hate groups, and that hate groups "just aren't welcome here."
“I have not issued a statement or made a comment about the events in Charlottesville because it’s not my style on these issues — and my constituents know that. Moreover, I do not make it a habit to insert myself into national tragedies because I do not feel these moments should be about me or about politics.
“But since some seem intent on pulling me into their discussion, I will say this: I do not discuss these issues publicly because they are very personal for me. I suspect I am the only member of the delegation or statewide political figure who knows what it is like to be judged, to be overlooked, to be pushed aside solely due to how I look, how I sound or what I believe. It is one of the main reasons I entered public service. I want to make sure every Idahoan has what I had: an opportunity to succeed regardless of their station in life at birth.
“I detest white supremacy as much as I detest black nationalism and other forms of identity politics. As a public servant, as a man of faith and as an American I abhor and condemn the violence, racism and bigotry we saw in Charlottesville. Racism and bigotry in all of their forms are abhorrent. In fact, I don’t know of an Idahoan who thinks otherwise. I also don’t know any Idahoans who believe that trite media statements will solve this nation’s problems or solve Idaho’s problems.
“The people of Idaho know me for my work and my actions. I am proud to say that the vast majority of Idahoans have always judged me by the content of my character rather than the color of my skin. That is a testament to the people of Idaho and the values we hold dear. We must stop dividing our nation and our people along ethnic, racial, social and political lines.”
Original Post 4 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 16:
During violent clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend, white nationalist demonstrators—there to protest the removal of a Gen. Robert E. Lee statue—fought counter-demonstrators with bare knuckles, billy-clubs and homemade shields bearing the insignias of the Ku Klux Klan and National Socialist Movement. One man plowed his Dodge Charger into the crowd, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer, of Charlottesville, and injuring 19 others.
President Donald Trump lambasted the hatred and violence, but stopped short of condemning the extreme white-nationalist elements, saying moral responsibility fell "on many sides." His comments irked Democrats and Republicans alike, and Trump, possibly bowing to pressure from his advisors and the public, added on Aug. 14: "Those who cause violence in [racism's] name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups."
The public outcry in Idaho was swift and unequivocal. During a vigil at the Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial the evening of Aug. 13, Idaho Black History Museum Director Phillip Thompson told a crowd of more than 200 people that only through "coordinated action" would any good come from the events in Charlottesville. United Vision for Idaho Executive Director Adrienne Evans identified the conflict as part of "systemic racism that continues to afflict our country and our state." The vigil was a time to "recognize that this is the America that we live in."
"It is no surprise to anyone of color, to anyone who is transgender or gay, to anyone living with a disability. This is the constant threat of systemic discrimination," Evans said in a call to action.
Other Gem State officials were quick to respond as well. In a tweet Aug. 13, Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) called what happened in Virginia an act of "domestic terrorism," and rejected "racism and hate perpetuated by white supremacist groups." Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) wrote that the hateful rhetoric of white supremacy and violence "have no place in this country," and Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) wrote, "The hateful acts of racism we witnessed in Charlottesville this weekend are reprehensible and I condemn them in the strongest terms."