By Jackie Dillard
“We are determined to take our country back,” Duke said. “We are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump.”
As the official start of the “Unite the Right” rally kicked off in Charlottesville, Virginia, former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke said the gathering of white supremacists, neo-Nazis and far-right individuals pointed to a future fulfillment of President Donald Trump’s “promises.”
“This represents a turning point for the people of this country,” said Duke in video uploaded to Twitter by Indianapolis Star photojournalist Mykal McEldowney. “We are determined to take our country back. We are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believed in, that’s why we voted for Donald Trump. Because he said he’s going to take our country back. That’s what we gotta do.”
In a tweet, Trump condemned “hate” and “violence” in response to clashes at the rally on Saturday, though he did not call out white supremacists in particular.
Duke responded to Trump’s tweet by stating that Trump should “remember” that “White Americans’ were the ones to put him in office.
Duke, a former KKK Grand Wizard, has long connected his message of white supremacy to ideas espoused by the president.
During the presidential campaign, Duke stated that he and Trump had similar messages, pointing to Trump proposing policies like a border wall or Muslim ban.
“Donald Trump is talking implicitly. I’m talking explicitly,” Duke said last year, according to Time.
Duke supported Trump’s campaign and publicly celebrated his lead on election night. Trump disavowed Duke and the KKK, but only after initially declining to do so, claiming he didn’t “know anything about” him.
This weekend’s rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, called “Unite the Right,” was nominally billed as a protest against the removal of a monument to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. The rally drew out hundreds of demonstrators bearing Nazi symbols and Confederate flags and chanting racist slogans. Violence has erupted between the far-right rally attendees and counter-protestors, leading Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) to declare a state of emergency.