By JOHN T. WARD
Republican State Senator Jen Beck on Wednesday joined a chorus of lawmakers condemning President Trump for blaming “both sides” in violent clashes between white-supremacist marchers and their opponents in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend.
Beck blasted Trump’s comments as “outrageous,” and called on him to retract and apologize for them.
Here’s the full statement, issued shortly before 11 a.m. Wednesday:
One woman was killed and nearly two dozen were injured when a white supremacist intentionally plowed his car through a crowd of counter-protesters. At a press conference yesterday, Trump said there is “blame on both sides” and “very fine people” on both sides.
“Despite what President Trump says, there are no ‘very fine’ Nazis or members of the KKK,” said Beck. “It’s outrageous that the President of the United States thinks it’s appropriate to morally equate those who want to celebrate and promote racism and slavery with those who are standing up to defend freedom, justice, and equality. I condemn President Trump’s comments in the strongest possible terms and call on him to apologize and retract his statement.”
Beck, a former Red Bank councilwoman who still lives in town, put distance between herself and Trump a year ago when she sat out her party’s national convention, which made Trump the GOP presidential nominee. She had supported Ohio Governor John Kasich.
With the statement, Beck joined a wave of Republican lawmakers around the country who were critical of Trump’s remarks at a press conference in New York Monday, when he said “both sides” were to blame in clashes in Charlottesville that left one anti-supremacist protester dead. Two police officers who had been monitoring the events from the air died in a helicopter crash during the unrest.
UPDATE: Vin Gopal, Beck’s Democratic opponent in this year’s 11th-district race, and his incumbent Assembly running mates, Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey, issued a statement Saturday. It said, in full:
“The level of hatred and violence we are seeing coming out of Charlottesville is appalling and frightening. We condemn the racist rhetoric of these hate groups, who have used Nazi iconography, Nazi salutes, and hateful slurs and chants. These marchers are threatened by diversity and community, and their violent words and actions should have no place in our country. And we are deeply saddened to note the passing of one individual and injury to 19 others directly due to the violence stemming from today’s events. We are praying for today’s victims and their families.
“We are placing our confidence in local authorities and hope they will find a peaceful end to this situation. In the meantime, our thoughts are with those in Charlottesville who have been harmed who now fear they are not welcome in their community. Diversity makes our country strong, and it is something we should celebrate, just as we do in New Jersey and right here in Monmouth County.”