SANFORD, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — Sen. Angus King said Tuesday the white supremacist groups that provoked violence in Virginia don’t represent that state, and that their views are not what America is about.
The weekend protests and attacks in Charlottesville, Virginia, resulted in three deaths and reignited questions about America’s struggle with racism.
Sen. King grew up in Virginia and went to law school in Charlottesville. During a stop at the Trafton Senior Center in Sanford, the senator told NEWS CENTER the actions of those Nazi and white supremacist groups were "disturbing," especially because of the many years of work in the country to promote civil rights and tolerance.
King said those hate groups do not represent most of America or Virginia.
"One of the things that really disturbed me," King said, "in looking at pictures of what happened, these were younger people. Many in their 20s and 30s. I just wonder what turned them to this sort of cult of hatred that’s so damaging to our society and community."
King said Charlottesville had worked for years to become a more inclusive community, and that the violence did not represent the people of the city or those of Virginia. As for the statue of Robert E. Lee, which allegedly sparked the protest, King said that was just used as an excuse.
"This isn’t about Robert E. Lee or Robert E. Lee’s statue," King said. "This is about symbolism, and I just think its people who came from all over the country to express anti-Semitism and racism … it's not who America is or wants to be."
The senator's comments came before the latest statements from President Trump about the groups involved in the Charlottesville confrontation.