Four members of Joint Chiefs denounce racism

Four members of Joint Chiefs denounce racism
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Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley early Wednesday morning became the fourth member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to condemn the racially motivated violence over the weekend in Charlottesville, Va.

Milley wrote on Twitter that the Army will not tolerate “racism, extremism or hatred” among its soldiers and that it is “against our values and everything we stood for since 1775.”

Violence erupted Saturday in the University of Virginia college town after a large gathering of white supremacists and far-right demonstrators converged at a “Unite the Right” rally to protest the taking down of a Confederate statue. 

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James Alex Fields Jr. — the Ohio man accused of killing a woman in Charlottesville after he allegedly drove his vehicle into a crowd of counterprotesters — joined the Army in August 2015 but left four months later after failing to pass basic training.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson addressed the violence the day of the protests. He tweeted Saturday evening that the events in Charlottesville were “unacceptable & musnt be tolerated” and that the Navy “forever stands against intolerance and hatred.”

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller wrote on Twitter Tuesday evening that there is “no place for racial hatred or extremism” in the Marines.

Neller wrote the message after reports emerged that a Marine veteran and former recruiter was identified as the leader of a white supremacist group Vanguard America, which took part in the “Unite the Right” rally.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein issued his own statement on Wednesday, saying, "I stand with my fellow service chiefs in saying we're always stronger together."

When asked about Charlottesville and far-right extremist groups wearing clothing affiliated with the military services, Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisThreatening foreign states with sanctions can backfire Overnight Defense: Erdoğan gets earful from GOP senators | Amazon to challenge Pentagon cloud contract decision in court | Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families Amazon to challenge Pentagon's 'war cloud' decision in federal court MORE told reporters Monday that “in America, we can dress as we wish, I would just tell you I was saddened by it. Very saddened by what I saw.”

The four service leaders speak out even as President Trump seemed to walk back statements made Monday in which he declared that “racism is evil” and called out the white supremacists behind the Charlottesville violence as “criminals and thugs.” 

But a day later during an impromptu Tuesday press conference, Trump asserted that there is “blame on both sides” and that he needed to “know the facts” before blaming neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan. 

He also said some of the people on the far-right side were “good people.”