Trump refuses to condemn white supremacists
CLEVELAND US President Donald Trump drew outrage yesterday after he dodged an opportunity to condemn white supremacists, and instead dropped the name of a far-right militia group during the presidential debate.
When asked if he was willing to reject racist and militia groups, Mr Trump deflected and said: "Proud Boys - stand back and stand by."
"But I'll tell you what, I'll tell you what, somebody's got to do something about antifa," he continued, referring to the far-left movement.
The Proud Boys, a far-right paramilitary group, then appeared to adopt the phrase, with one known social media account posting a logo that read "Stand Back, Stand By".
Outrage swiftly followed the President's words.
"At a time of peak far-right violence and growing racism... (Mr Trump) gave another nod to white supremacists, who are already calling that a 'shoutout'," tweeted Ms Rita Katz, director of Site Intelligence Group, a US watchdog of extremist groups.
The head of the Anti-Defamation League called on Mr Trump to explain or apologise.
"Trying to determine if this was an answer or an admission. President Trump owes America an apology or an explanation. Now," Mr Jonathan Greenblatt wrote on Twitter.
The Southern Poverty Law Centre, a major civil rights organisation, has classified the Proud Boys as a hate group, saying it is known for anti-Muslim and misogynistic rhetoric.
"Their disavowals of bigotry are belied by their actions: Rank-and-file Proud Boys and leaders regularly spout white nationalist memes and maintain affiliations with known extremists," the centre noted. - AFP