AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- At the same time he praised protesters for standing up against racism, Gov. Paul LePage also warned them against letting their convictions lead them to violence.
The racial fissures exposed by the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia were the focus of the Governor's weekly radio address, released on Wednesday morning.
"I condemn anyone who believes in the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacy or racism," said LePage. "It has no place in our country."
He recounted the history of Ku Klux Klan activity in Maine, saying that he felt personally targeted. "They came after Franco-Americans because they hated Catholics," said LePage. "They hated my family."
But LePage also directed his reproach at ideologues on the far-left of the political spectrum whom he accused of stifling free speech under the guise of opposing racism.
The so-called “anti-fascists” went to Charlottesville looking for a confrontation. It cost the lives of a young woman [Heather Heyer] and two dedicated police officers.
The media also shared in LePage's recrimination. He bristled at the suggestion that he somehow condoned racism by not immediately denouncing events like the Charlottesville rally that happen outside of Maine. LePage claimed the media bears responsibility for staying silent about violence from left-wing protesters.
The radio address drew immediate backlash from Gov. LePage's political opponents. Maine Democratic Party Chairman Phil Bartlett said, "It's downright despicable that Paul LePage would blame the tragic deaths in Charlottesville not on the racist, hate-filled white supremacists and neo-Nazi terrorists who organized a white nationalist rally, but on the people who rallied in support of equality and justice."