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Nicole Lafond

Nicole Lafond is a news writer for TPM based in New York City. She is also currently earning a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and previously worked as an education reporter at The News-Gazette in Champaign, Ill. Follow her on Twitter @Nicole_Lafond.

Articles by Nichole

The White House is asking Republican members of Congress to follow the President’s lead as he blames “both sides” for the violence that broke out in Charlottesville, Va. during a white supremacist rally over the weekend, according to a memo obtained by The Atlantic.

Just hours after President Donald Trumps gave a provocative press conference — claiming that both the “alt-left” and the “alt-right” are to blame for the deadly violence that broke out in Charlottesville when a self-proclaimed white supremacists allegedly drove his car into a crowd of counter protestors  — the White House gave Republicans guidance on how to discuss Charlottesville.

This kind of memo is sent to Republicans on a daily basis, The Atlantic reported.

The memo asked Republicans to use similar rhetoric as the President that “both sides of the violence in Charlottesville acted inappropriately, and bear some responsibility.”

“The President was entirely correct. … Despite the criticism, the President reaffirmed some of our most important founding principles: We are equal in the eyes of our creator, equal under the law, and equal under our Constitution,” the memo said.

The White House claimed Trump has been a voice “for unity and calm” and has called for the “end of violence on all sides so that no more innocent lives would be lost.”

The talking points also suggested that Trump, “with no ambiguity,” condemned the hate groups by name and blamed the media for reacting with “hysteria” to the President’s talking points that counter-protestors “showed up with clubs spoiling for a fight.”

It took the President two full days to condemn the white nationalists and neo-Nazis who gathered for the rally that turned violent Saturday.

“We should not overlook the facts just because the media finds them inconvenient: From cop killing and violence at political rallies, to shooting at Congressmen at a practice baseball game, extremists on the left have engaged in terrible acts of violence,” it said.

The memo also outlined the “swift action” Trump is taking to hold the “hate groups” accountable, including the Department of Justice’s opening of a civil rights investigation into the alleged car attack.

“Leaders and the media in our country should join the President in trying to unite and heal our country rather than incite more division,” it said.

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The conservative National Review is calling for the removal of Confederate monuments from public spaces, saying they should be reserved for museums and other locations.

“The monuments should go. Some of them simply should be trashed; others transmitted to museums, battlefields and cemeteries. The heroism and losses of Confederate soldiers should be commemorated, but not in everyday public spaces where the monuments are flashpoints in poisonous racial contention, with white nationalists often mustering in their defense,” editor Rich Lowry wrote in a piece published Tuesday.

He argued the recent violence that broke out at a white supremacist rally that started as a protest of the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee from a Charlottesville, Virginia park, should be an “inflection point in the broader debate” over whether the monuments of Confederate soldiers serve a purpose in the public sphere.

For supporters of the Confederate monuments, removing them from parks and avenues will be a blow against their heritage and historical memory. But the statues have often been part of an effort to whitewash the Confederacy,” Lowry said. “And it’s one thing for a statue to be merely a resting place for pigeons; it’s another for it to be a fighting cause for neo-Nazis.”

Lowry said even Lee himself was opposed to building Confederate monuments after the war, saying he thought it would be “wiser” to “not keep open the sores of war.”

“After Charlottesville, it’s time to revisit his advice,” Lowry said.

Lowry is referencing the deadly violence at a white supremacist rally over the weekend, when a self-proclaimed white nationalist allegedly drove his car into a crowd of counter-protestors, killing one woman.

Read the whole editorial here.

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On Monday, Boston officials announced plans to block a free speech rally scheduled in the city this weekend.

The Boston Free Speech rally was organized by a group that claims to be different than the white supremacists who organized a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend that ended in deadly violence, despite having similar speakers and supporters.

Some supporters tweeted Monday that the rally — scheduled for Saturday on the Boston Common— had been cancelled because city officials revoked the group’s permit request, but the city said the group never applied for a permit, according to Mass Live.

Boston Free Speech later posted on Facebook that the group had submitted a permit in July and it had been approved by the city. They also said the rally on Saturday is not cancelled.

The Boston Police Department Commissioner confirmed Monday that the group still does not have a permit for the rally because they never applied to the correct city department, Boston’s WBUR reported. The group can still rally without a permit.

Boston’s mayor and Massachusetts’ governor held a press conference Monday to discuss the planned rally, saying they would do everything they could to keep the gathering from happening and that Boston rejects racism, white supremacy and hatred, Mass Live reported.

“Boston does not welcome you here, Boston does not want you here, Boston rejects your message,” Mayor Marty Walsh said. “We’ll do anything in our power to keep hate out of our city.”

Walsh said the city is working to figure out who the organizers are and he said he planned to ask the group to postpone the rally. If they did arrive, he said the city would allow them to advocate for free speech, but not violence, threatening behavior or vandalism.

Police Commissioner William Evans said that regardless of whether the group gets a permit, they still have a protected right to gather if they choose to, according to the Boston Globe.  

“We’ve handled major demonstrations, and I don’t find this any different,” he said. “It’s pretty sad that we have to waste so many resources on such a group . . . with such hatred coming to Massachusetts.” 

The moves to block the rally come in response to a request from several Boston civil rights groups, who asked Walsh for a meeting to discuss how the city plans to keep citizens safe during the Free Speech rally on Saturday.

The gathering is scheduled to be held exactly one week after a self-proclaimed white supremacist allegedly drove his car into a group of counter-protesters at a white nationalists rally in Charlottesville, killing one person.

On its Facebook page, the group claimed it is not associated with the Charlottesville rally, but previously scheduled speakers included several prominent alt-right voices like Gavin Mcinnes, who has since backed out, and Joe Biggs, formerly of Infowars. Augustus Invictus, who spoke at the Charlottesville rally, was also scheduled to speak at the rally, but was uninvited by the group, the Boston Globe reported.

US Senate candidate Shiva Ayyadurai is also scheduled to speak and told the Globe he would be there to support free speech if the rally happens. 

 

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Texas A&M University officials have canceled a planned “White Lives Matter” rally at the school scheduled for next month, in light of Saturday’s deadly violence in Charlottesville, Va. at a white supremacists rally.

The rally was scheduled for Sept. 11 on a plaza at the center of campus, KBTX-TV reported.

University officials said the event organizer — Preston Wiginton — did not have the permission of the university to hold the rally on campus and announced the gathering to the media under the headline “Today Charlottesville, Tomorrow Texas A&M,” according to a statement from the school.

After consultation with law enforcement and considerable study, Texas A&M is cancelling the event scheduled by Preston Wiginton at Rudder Plaza on campus on September 11 because of concerns about the safety of its students, faculty, staff, and the public,” the statement said. “Linking the tragedy of Charlottesville with the Texas A&M event creates a major security risk on our campus. Additionally, the daylong event would provide disruption to our class schedules and to student, faculty and staff movement.”

In December 2016 Texas A&M allowed Wiginton to share his views on campus, but said that in light of the rally in Charlottesville over the weekend, in which a self-proclaimed white supremacist drove his car through a crowd of counter-protestors and killing one, the school decided to cancel the gathering.

“In this case, circumstances and information relating to the event have changed and the risks of threat to life and safety compel us to cancel the event,” the university said. “Finally, the thoughts and prayers of Aggies here on campus and around the world are with those individuals affected by the tragedy in Charlottesville.”

The event was meant to be similar to the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, with white supremacist Richard Spencer scheduled to speak.

Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX), a graduate of Texas A&M, reacted to the news of the event, telling the local TV station that “racism, bigotry and violence have no place in America.”

“We as a nation must stand united as a nation of laws. I am confident that our community can once again peacefully come together to counter hatred and division by exemplifying unity and the core values we cherish,” he said.

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Just a few weeks out from his short 10-day tenure as White House communications director, Anthony Scaramucci is still vocalizing his obsession with tracking down “leakers” in the White House.

Appearing on CBS’ “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” Monday, he touched on his fallout with former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and said he thinks Chief Strategist Steve Bannon’s tenure is coming to an end.

“The weird thing about my relationship with Reince is we were actually pretty good friends when I was a political donor writing checks to the RNC, but once I became part of the administration or was about to enter the administration, for whatever reasons, it was a little more adversarial,” he said, saying he thought Priebus was one of the leakers Scaramucci was obsessed with uncovering during his time at the White House.

Colbert asked who is leaking now that Preibus is gone.

“Is it Bannon?” he asked.

“Well, I’ve said it before, I’ve been pretty open about that. … I said he was. I obviously got caught on tape saying he was, so I have no problem saying that,” Scaramucci said, referencing the profanity-laced interview he gave The New Yorker, in which he attacked Bannon for trying to “build (his) own brand off the fucking strength of the President.”

“Is he going to be gone in a week?” Colbert asked, which Scaramucci deflected, saying it was “up to the President.”

“But what do you think? What does the Mooch thing?” Colbert asked, which was met with “Mooch” chants from the audience.

“If it was up to me, he would be gone. But it’s not up to me,” Scaramucci said.

His criticism comes after The New York Times reported Bannon’s job is in limbo with new Chief of Staff John Kelly making his displeasure with Bannon clear. The President also reportedly had a private dinner at the White House with 21st Century Fox chief Rupert Murdoch, who reportedly urged Trump to fire Bannon.

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GoDaddy gave The Daily Stormer 24 hours to move its domain elsewhere after the extremist site violated the web host’s terms of service by posting an article disparaging the woman who was killed while protesting a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend.

GoDaddy posted on Twitter Sunday that it had informed the neo-Nazi website that it had a day to move to another provider.

Reuters reported Monday afternoon that the site was being hosted by Google. But NBC reported that Google was canceling the the site’s registration because it violated the tech giant’s terms.

The Daily Stormer posted an article about Heather Heyer, who was killed Saturday when a white nationalist rally turned violent. The article denigrated her for her physical appearance and for having what the website said were anti-white male views, Reuters reported. One person was killed and more than a dozen were injured when a white nationalist allegedly drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters Saturday.

The Daily Stormer claimed on Monday that its site had been hacked by the group Anonymous. The group denied any involvement, tweeting they have “no confirmation” that Anonymous was involved and saying it looked like a “stunt” by The Daily Stormer that may be having “issues finding a new host.”

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the violent attack Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia, in which a white supremacist allegedly drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters at a white supremacists rally, fits the Department of Justice’s definition of domestic terrorism.

“It does meet the definition of domestic terrorism in our statute. We’re pursuing it with the Department of Justice in every way we can make it, make a case,” he said, appearing on ABC’s “Good Morning America” Monday morning. “You can be sure we will charge and advance the investigation toward the most serious charges that can be brought, because this is an unequivocally unacceptable and evil attack that cannot be accepted in America, so absolutely that is a factor that we will be looking at.”

Sessions made the rounds on news shows Monday morning, defending the President for his initial statements about the incident, amid criticism that President Donald Trump didn’t go far enough to condemn white supremacists and neo-Nazi groups.

Trump’s initial comments condemned violence on “many sides,” but didn’t explicitly call out the white nationalist groups.

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In response to violence at a white supremacists rally in Charlottesville, Va. Saturday — in which a self-proclaimed member of the racist group drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one — the Illinois state Senate adopted a resolution Sunday that takes a hard stance on white supremacy and neo-Nazi groups.

The resolution urges law enforcement officials to label white nationalist groups and neo-Nazis as terrorist organizations, according to the Chicago Tribune.

State Sen. Don Harmon (D), who sponsored the resolution, said it was “vital” to stand up and condemn the “hatred, bigotry and violence” that white nationalists displayed over the weekend.

“They are the heirs of the Ku Klux Klan and the Nazis. We fought two bloody wars in opposition to their ideologies. We must continue to fight those same twisted ideologies today,” he tweeted Sunday. “Diversity has always and will always make America stronger and better.”

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Despite criticism that the President has still not condemned white supremacy after a self-proclaimed member of the fringe group drove a car into a crowd of counter protestors at a white supremacy rally this weekend, Attorney General Jeff Sessions defended the President saying he made a “very strong statement.”

“He said what happened in Charlottesville is unacceptable and we need to find out what happened, that it’s wrong and we need to study it and see what as a nation we can do to be more effective against this kind of extremism and evil,” he said on the “Today” show Monday. “It was a good statement delivered just a few hours after the event. The next day, yesterday, they explicitly called out the Nazis and the KKK.”

The hosts of the show pushed back, saying that statement came from an unnamed White House spokesperson, not President Donald Trump himself. Sessions said the name on the statement was irrelevant.

“I’m sure he will talk again about it soon. He will be speaking to the people today. I’m not sure what he will say, but that’s my understanding. He’s been firm on this from the beginning. He is appalled by this,” Sessions said.

Sessions’ rhetoric is similar to Vice President Mike Pence’s defense of the President, who said Trump “clearly and unambiguously condemned the bigotry, violence and hatred” and questioned why the media was spending more time criticizing the President’s words than “criticizing those who perpetrated the violence to begin with.”

Watch the interview below:

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Following President Donald Trump’s failure to condemn white supremacy after violence broke out at a rally in Charlottesville, Va. Saturday, the city’s mayor joined the chorus of Republican and Democratic politicians alike criticizing the President for not taking a harder stance against racism and white supremacists groups following the attack.

“Look I think a lot of this speaks for itself. We saw the campaign they ran, we saw the folks they surround themselves with, we saw with David Duke, people like that, say about the President. I’m kind of finished talking about the President,” Mayor Michael Signer (D) said, appearing on “Morning Joe” Monday. “The nation is speaking with one voice about what they saw here and what needs to happen next.”

He said he hopes his city will become “synonymous” with the move to “at long last turning the page on this horrific chapter in American politics where bigots and the fringe of the fringe were invited to the mainstream out from the shadows where they belong. That, I think, just came to an end this weekend,” he said.

The mayor’s comments follow remarks he made over the weekend, accusing Trump of “courting” white supremacists after Trump initially failed to condemn the fringe group for the attack at a rally where a self-proclaimed white supremacist drove his car into a crowd of counter protestors, leaving three dead and dozens injured.

Signer called the attack “modern day domestic terrorism” and said the issues that arise as southern cities work to change the confederacy narrative in their communities are “extremely complicated.”

“Anybody trying to reduce them to a tweet, to something that will fit into 140 characters just doesn’t fit into the debate,” he said.

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