Amnesty International USA on Wednesday urged President Donald Trump to condemn ‘white supremacy and racist violence’, a day after Mr. Trump failed to do just that during his chaotic debate against Democratic challenger Joe Biden.
“Are you willing tonight to condemn white supremacists and groups to say they need to stand down and not add to the violence and number of the cities as we saw in Kenosha and as we’ve seen in Portland?” moderator Chris Wallace asked Donald Trump during Tuesday’s debate in Cleveland, Ohio.
“Sure. I’m willing to do that,” Trump said. “Almost everything I see is from the left wing. Not from the right wing.”
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He did not, even after Joe Biden pressed him to condemn them.
During the debate, Trump also told the Proud Boys, a far-right men’s organization with a history of instigating violence, to “stand back and stand by.”
He issued the urgent call after he was asked to condemn white supremacists and militia groups.
Just minutes after, Trump said he was “urging my people” who are “poll watchers” to go to voting locations across the country to do something he did not clearly explain, claiming that the election is or would be rife with “fraud”.
Amnesty International USA’s End Gun Violence Campaign Manager, Ernest Coverson, said in a statement received by Today News Africa in Washington DC that President Trump “blew yet another dog whistle to the Proud Boys.”
“Last night, President Trump blew yet another dog whistle to the Proud Boys, a group the FBI has deemed an ‘extremist organization.’ While disappointing and horrifying, this isn’t surprising: President Trump has traded in bigotry since day one, putting ordinary people at greater risk of violence and harassment by white supremacists, Coverson said.
“The continued failure of President Trump to denounce racial and ethnic hatred has only emboldened those who wish to normalize discrimination. We have seen how white supremacy, racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim, misogyny, and anti-LGBTQ sentiment are being used to further discrimination against already marginalized communities. The failure to hold accountable those who commit, encourage, or turn a blind eye to this hateful rhetoric only worsens the problem.
“With a system that allows virtually unfettered access to guns, the president’s rhetoric becomes that much more dangerous and potentially violent. Just weeks ago in Kenosha, Wisconsin, we saw the tragic results of what happens when authorities fail to ensure the safety of those targeted by the hateful ideology of white supremacy. The right to protest should not be used as license to intimidate, harass and harm others.”
Coverson said Amnesty International USA will be closely monitoring over the course of the next four weeks and beyond to keep an eye out for protests and incidents of violence, likely to be spurred by the kind of rhetoric heard from President Trump.
“Threatening peaceful protesters and urging intimidation against the right to express one’s political opinion is unconscionable, and will not be tolerated,” the organization said.