Washington: The violence in Charlottesville in which a suspected white supremacist rammed a car on a crowd of protesters fits the definition of "domestic terrorism", US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said on Monday.
The Trump administration has been on defensive after the weekend violence by hundreds of supporters and members of the various white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups who converged in Charlottesville to protest against the removal of statue of Robert Lee, an American general known for commanding the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in the American Civil War from 1862 until his surrender in 1865.
Sessions was referring to the incident of a white supremacist allegedly driving his car into a crowd of counter protestors that resulted in the death of a woman and injuries to 19 others.
"It (violence) does meet the definition of domestic terrorism in our statute. We are pursuing it with the Department of Justice in every way we can make it a case," Sessions told ABC's 'Good Morning America'.
"You can be sure we will charge and advance the investigation towards 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," he said.
Sessions said by such acts, neo-Nazi groups were trying to legitimise themselves.
"They are simply attempting to legitimate themselves in any way possible. They are going to find out we are going to come after them for any violations of the law," he said.
Various white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups have been praising President Donald Trump, saying that they voted for him. This has come as a major embarrassment for Trump who returned for a day to the White House from his more than a fortnight-long working summer vacation at his gold course resort in New Jersey. The White House has defended Trump.
"The president said very strongly in his statement yesterday (Sunday) that he condemns all forms of violence, bigotry and hatred. Of course that includes white supremacists, KKK (Ku Klux Klan) Neo-Nazi and all extremist groups. He called for national unity and bringing all Americans together," a White House spokesperson said in a statement.
The FBI is investigating the incident and Department of Justice has opened a civil rights investigation into the violence by these groups in Charlottesville, Virginia, a University town about 193 kilometres southwest of Washington.
Sessions said he is confident that the American people will reject this kind of evil ideology.
"We need to take it seriously. Amazingly, Nazism remains alive out of all the evil it has incurred or caused in the world, so I think we take this seriously. We go at it directly, morally, legally, politically, legitimately, in any way possible to reject this kind of ideology that causes division and hatred in America. It is just not part of our heritage," the Attorney General added.
Updated Date: Aug 14, 2017 21:47 PM