Local democratic leaders condemn Charlottesville violence, racism

SAN DIEGO -- San Diego County Democratic elected officials Tuesday denounced the hatred and violence that led to a woman's death in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend and the initial response by President Donald Trump.

Confrontations Saturday between white supremacists and counter- protesters resulted in the death of a woman when a man drove a car into a crowd of people. At least 19 others were hurt.

At a news conference in Balboa Park, Sen. Ben Hueso, D-San Diego, called groups like the KKK and neo-Nazis a "horrible cancer" causing pain and destruction. He said he wants his and other children to be free from racism and discrimination.

Sen. Toni Atkins said, "Donald Trump has given them active permission to put their hate on display for everyone to see."

Other local Democratic officials, like Assemblywoman Shirley Weber and City Council President Myrtle Cole, also spoke.

"Today, we have to figure out how do we touch people's lives and say `you know, there's no reason to hate because of the color of our skin,"' Cole said.

On Monday, county party Chairwoman Jessica Hayes released a statement that said, "We extend our deepest condolences to the families of the victims of the tragedy that was the hateful and divisive march in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday, especially the family of Heather Heyer, a white woman who died at the hands of a white man who was showing his support of white supremacy. Their logic is as flawed as their morality."

The man accused of driving the vehicle that struck Heyer, 20-year-old James Alex Fields Jr. of Ohio, was denied bail in his first court appearance on Monday. He was charged with second-degree murder in connection with the death of the 32-year-old paralegal.

Trump called racism "evil" and specifically named the KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacists in remarks Monday about Saturday's violence. His remarks came after two days of bipartisan criticism that his initial comments failed to directly condemn white extremists and falsely equated their behavior to protests by the left.

Tony Krvaric, chairman of the Republican Party of San Diego County, said Monday he agreed with Trump's latest remarks.

"In short, violence and racism can never be tolerated," he said in an email.