The Governor of Virginia has urged white supremacists gathering in Charlottesville to “go home” after ugly clashes with anti-fascist demonstrators that left three people dead.
Neo-Nazis, skinheads and members of the Ku Klux Klan converged on the city on Saturday in what is believed to have been the largest gathering of white nationalists in a decade.
Hundreds also came to protest against the racism, and tensions boiled over into street battles using rocks and pepper spray before a car was driven into a group of anti-fascist protesters, killing a 32-year-old woman as she crossed the street.
Two policemen died in a helicopter crash while working as part of the effort to restore order.
Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, declared an emergency and halted the planned white nationalist rally.
“I have a message to all the white supremacists and the Nazis who came into Charlottesville today. Our message is plain and simple: go home,” McAuliffe told a news conference.
“You are not wanted in this great commonwealth. Shame on you.”
His unequivocal condemnation of the far-right demonstrators was in marked contrast to Donald Trump, whose response fell well short of singling them out.
Speaking from a podium set up in a golf clubhouse, Mr Trump said that he had just spoken to Governor McAuliffe.
“We agreed that the hate and the division must stop, and must stop right now. We have to come together as Americans with love for our nation and… true affection for each other,” he said.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides… on many sides.
“It’s been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump. Not Barack Obama. It’s been going on for a long, long time.”
The President said that “what is vital now is a swift restoration of law and order and the protection of innocent lives.”
Mr Trump then left, ignoring reporters’ shouted questions, including whether he wanted the support of white nationals who have said they backed him or whether the car crash killing amounted to terrorism.
Republican politicians were among those who said it was inexcusable of the President not to denounce white supremacy.
“Mr President – we must call evil by its name,” tweeted Republican Senator Cory Gardner, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the group charged with helping to get Republicans elected to the Senate.
“These were white supremacists and this was domestic.”
Nancy Pelosi, Democrat leader in the House of Representatives, said in a tweet directed at the President: “Repeat after me, @realDonaldTrump: white supremacy is an affront to American values.”
Charlottesville mayor Michael Signer blamed Mr Trump for inflaming racial prejudice during his presidential campaign last year.
Mr Signer said: “I’m not going to make any bones about it. I place the blame for a lot of what you’re seeing in America today right at the doorstep of the White House and the people around the President.”