Donald Trump has been forced to disband two White House business councils after the high profile resignations of five chief executives over his Charlottesville comments.
The US President has been heavily criticised after he said there was blame on “many sides” for clashes between white supremacists and counter protesters on Saturday.
On Wednesday night, hundreds of people gathered on the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville for a peaceful candlelight vigil.
Image: Hundreds took part in a candlelit vigil at the University of Virginia campus
They sang songs and held a silence for 32-year-old Heather Heyer, who died in Saturday’s violence, as well as two police officers who died when their helicopter crashed while they were monitoring the chaos.
The vigil took place in the same spot where hundreds of torch-carrying white nationalists had marched on Friday.
Thousands had earlier held a rally against white supremacists in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with organisers saying they wanted to “boldy rebuke all forms of bigotry”.
Image: A rally against white supremacy in Philadelphia
Former Republican presidents George HW Bush and George W Bush issued a veiled rebuke of Mr Trump in a joint statement condemning racial bigotry and anti-Semitism.
Issued on Wednesday from Kennebunkport, Maine, where they have a family home, the statement said: “America must always reject racial bigotry, anti-Semitism, and hatred in all forms.”
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Image: George HW Bush and George W Bush pictured together in 2013
They also made reference to Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, whose main home Monticello is in Charlottesville.
“As we pray for Charlottesville, we are reminded of the fundamental truths recorded by that city’s most prominent citizen in the Declaration of Independence: we are all created equal and endowed by our Creator with unalienable rights.
“We know these truths to be everlasting because we have seen the decency and greatness of our country.”
The joint statement did not mention Mr Trump by name.
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Mr Trump’s remarks on the violence have triggered a backlash across the political spectrum – including several members of his own party.
Five chief executives from some of America’s biggest companies resigned from the President’s Manufacturing Jobs Initiative Panel, before Mr Trump disbanded it on Wednesday.
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The parade of departing leaders includes 3M chief executive Inge Thulin; Alliance for American Manufacturing president Scott Paul; Merck chief executive Kenneth Frazier; Under Armour chief executive Kevin Plank and Intel chief executive Brian Krzanich.
After Mr Paul’s resignation, Mr Trump tweeted: “For every CEO that drops out of the Manufacturing Council, I have many to take their place. Grandstanders should not have gone on. JOBS!”
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Following his decision to disband the council, he tweeted: “Rather than putting pressure on the business people of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both. Thank you all!”
Senior members of the Republican party have also waded in with criticism.
South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said on Wednesday that the President “took a step backward by again suggesting there is moral equivalency between the white supremacist neo-Nazis and KKK members who attended the Charlottesville rally” and the people protesting against them.
He added: “Many Republicans do not agree with and will fight back against the idea that the Party of Lincoln has a welcome mat out for the David Dukes of the world.”
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Former Democrat president Barack Obama quoted Nelson Mandela in a tweet about the Charlottesville violence that has become the most liked message in the history of Twitter.
In it, he wrote: “No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin or his background or his religion.”