Senators push bill urging Trump to tackle hate groups

Bipartisan effort sponsored by Virginia lawmakers describes Charlottesville violence as ‘domestic terror attack’

Illustrative: A white supremacist carrying a Nazi flag into Emancipation Park in Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 12, 2017. (AP/Steve Helber/File)
Illustrative: A white supremacist carrying a Nazi flag into Emancipation Park in Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 12, 2017. (AP/Steve Helber/File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Virginia’s two Democratic senators joined with two Republican senators to sponsor a resolution condemning white supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and other hate groups and urging the White House to address the issue following a white-nationalist rally in Virginia that descended into deadly violence.

Democratic Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine introduced the joint resolution Wednesday along with Republican Senators Cory Gardner of Colorado and Johnny Isakson of Georgia.

The resolution recognizes the August 12 death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuries suffered by 19 others after a car allegedly driven by a neo-Nazi slammed into a crowd of demonstrators protesting a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville.

Democratic vice presidential candidate, Senator Tim Kaine, D-Va. speaks during a campaign rally at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan on September 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

The resolution specifically describes Heyer’s death as a “domestic terrorist attack” and acknowledges two Virginia State Police troopers who died when their helicopter crashed while monitoring the protests. Trooper Berke Bates and Lt. Jay Cullen died in the crash.

The resolution also calls on the Trump administration to use all available resources to improve data collection on hate crimes and work in a coordinated way to address hate groups in America.

It expresses support for the people of Charlottesville and urges healing following what it calls “this horrific and violent display of bigotry.”

If approved by the Senate, the joint resolution would go to the House, where Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly of Virginia is leading efforts to approve it. If adopted by both chambers, the resolution would go to President Donald Trump.

Trump has been criticized for his response following the violent white nationalist rally in Charlottesville over the city’s planned removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. Trump asserted there were good people on “both sides” of the Charlottesville rally and bemoaned rising efforts to remove Confederate monuments as an attack on America’s “history and culture.”

The Senate resolution is supported by a range of civil rights groups, including the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the Anti-Defamation League and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

The resolution also is co-sponsored by Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.

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