Protests, violence and tragedy in Charlottesville

White nationalist demonstrators use shields Saturday as they guard the entrance to Lee Park in Charlottesville, Virginia.

As President Donald Trump took recent criticism for equivocal statements condemning violence at a white supremacist rally in Virginia over the weekend, members of Wyoming’s congressional delegation took a variety of approaches in their own public comments about the event.

Wyoming’s U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, the first member of the delegation to comment, was forceful in her word choice.

“Vile white supremacist/neo-Nazi hatred has no place in America,” she wrote on Twitter Sunday.

Those comments came after her personal Twitter account retweeted several denunciations of white supremacism, including a quote from Ronald Reagan and a photo of American soldiers during World War II with a captured Nazi flag.

She also retweeted a comment from her father Dick Cheney’s cardiologist, Jonathan Reiner, who co-wrote a book with the former vice president.

“Let’s see if any of these a------- will say ‘Jew will not Cath me’ when they have their heart attack,” Reiner wrote in reference to chants of “Jew will not replace us” during the rally.

In a statement on social media Monday morning, Wyoming’s senior U.S. senator, Mike Enzi, also condemned bigotry expressed at the rally.

“White supremacist notions, hate & violence have no place in our society,” Enzi wrote on Twitter. “We should condemn those who use violence to propagate hatred, racism, or anti-Semitism in our country.”

Sen. John Barrasso released a relatively tepid statement on Twitter on Saturday evening, several hours after one woman was killed, and many others injured, when someone drove a car into a crowd of counter-protesters. Police arrested and charged a participant in the white supremacist rally with the car ramming.

“Saddened by the events in #Charlottesville. Violence and hatred are not the American way. Prayers for the victims,” Barrasso wrote.

He elaborated on his tweet in a statement sent to the Star-Tribune on Monday.

“I’m extremely saddened by what happened in Charlottesville. These acts of violence and bigotry, fueled by this white supremacist group, are completely unacceptable. Our prayers are with the victims and their families,” he said.

Trump received bipartisan criticism after condemning “both sides” for violence at the rally. Trump declined to answer questions from reporters over the weekend about whether he specifically condemned the white supremacists and neo-Nazis at the rally, many of whom have expressed support for the president.

On Monday afternoon, Trump strengthened his comments by condemning the KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacists as “criminals and thugs” and said “racism is evil.”

Critics noted that Trump has more quickly denounced cable news hosts, department stores and other relatively minor entities over perceived slights.

Cheney’s representative, Kara Ahern, affirmed Trump’s statement Monday.

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“Congressman Cheney welcomes President Trump’s comments at the White House this morning, and his determination to ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice,” she wrote in an email to the Star-Tribune.

Enzi elaborated on his social media comments in an email.

“White supremacist notions, hate and violence have no place in our society,” Enzi wrote. “They run counter to our values that we all share as Americans. We as a nation have come so far, fighting wars at home and abroad, to protect the idea that all individuals are created equal.”

Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions, said earlier Monday that the violence in which a car plowed into a group of counter-protesters, killing one person, “does meet the definition of domestic terrorism in our statute.”

The “Unite the Right” event in Charlottesville was billed as a bridging of several “alt-right groups,” though it ended up taking a decidedly white supremacist turn as participants marched to a Confederate monument on Friday night in a torchlight parade and rallied on Saturday while waving Confederate and Nazi flags.

There were several violent clashes between the white supremacists and counter-protesters.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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