Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell condemned white supremacists who are gearing up for a rally in Lexington in response to plans to remove statues of Confederate generals from city property.
“We can have no tolerance for an ideology of racial hatred,” McConnell said in a statement. “There are no good neo-nazis, and those who espouse their views are not supporters of American ideals and freedoms. We all have a responsibility to stand against hate and violence, wherever it raises its evil head.”
Lexington Mayor Jim Gray called for the removal of the likenesses of Confederate generals John Hunt Morgan and John C. Breckenridge from city property in the wake of the Charlottesville rally.
Tuesday, the city’s Urban-County Council advanced a proposal to move the monuments to Veterans Memorial Park on the outskirts of town.
One person died and more than 30 were injured in the Charlottesville rally, where a driver rammed a car into a group of counter-protesters. Two Virginia state troopers also died in a related helicopter crash.
Removal of Confederate symbols is a contentious issue in Kentucky.
Gov. Matt Bevin on Tuesday said that removing Confederate monuments amounts to a “sanitization of history,” comparing it to actions conducted by authoritarian regimes. Bevin had previously advocated for the removal of a white marble statue of Jefferson Davis from the state capitol rotunda.
Meanwhile, the state’s NAACP is renewing its year-long efforts to remove the statue.
McConnell’s statement comes after President Donald Trump doubled down on his position that violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville was the fault of rally-goers and counter-protesters. McConnell did not address the president’s remarks.
“You had a group on one side that was bad and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent,” Trump said at a news conference on Tuesday.
Trump also expressed common cause with white supremacists rallying against the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee.
“This week it’s Robert E. Lee. I noticed Stonewall Jackson is coming down,” Trump said, “I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You really have to ask yourself, where does it stop?”
McConnell has been silent about Trump’s response to the Charlottesville rally.
During the Tuesday news conference, Trump was flanked by Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, McConnell’s wife.
Chao told reporters afterwards that the president — and her husband — still have her support.
“I stand by my man, both of them,” she said.
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