Fayette County

Lexington mayor tells CNN that Trump ‘dialed up the rhetoric of hatred’

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray explains decision to move Confederate statues

The statues of John Hunt Morgan and John C. Breckinridge stand on the same ground in Lexington that was once one of the largest slave markets in the South.
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The statues of John Hunt Morgan and John C. Breckinridge stand on the same ground in Lexington that was once one of the largest slave markets in the South.

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray criticized President Donald Trump on national television Monday morning for failing to condemn white supremacists for violent rallies Saturday in Charlottesville, Va.

In an interview on CNN, Gray said it is the duty of all public officials to stand firm against racism, hatred and bigotry.

Trump’s initial statement about Saturday’s deadly clash between white nationalists and counter-protestors in Virginia didn’t go far enough and only “dialed up the rhetoric of hatred,” he said.

“The president needs to condemn the violence and the hatred,” Gray said.

Gray is among many elected officials — including several prominent Republicans — who expressed disappointment in Trump’s initial reaction to the violence.

On Saturday, Trump condemned violence, bigotry and hatred, but he blamed “many sides” and didn’t mention white supremacists.

Later Monday, Trump made a more forceful statement on the clashes in Charlottesville, labeling the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups “repugnant.”

President Trump calls out the KKK, neo-Nazis and other hate groups in condemning Saturday's violence in Charlottesville.

Gray was on CNN to discuss his announcement Saturday that he would move two Confederate statues from the lawn of the former Fayette County courthouse on Main Street to a war memorial area in Veterans Park. The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council is expected to take its first vote on the proposal Tuesday.

When asked whether he was concerned that his decision might cause white nationalists to protest in Lexington, Gray said the city is compassionate, but “we are are a very disciplined and prepared city.”

Since his announcement, Gray has been interviewed by several national media outlets, including The Washington Post.

Beth Musgrave: 859-231-3205, @HLCityhall

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