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Nicole Lafond

Nicole Lafond is a news writer for TPM based in New York City. She is also currently earning a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and previously worked as an education reporter at The News-Gazette in Champaign, Ill. Follow her on Twitter @Nicole_Lafond.

Articles by Nichole

More like one flag.

The Six Flags Over Texas amusement park in Arlington, Texas has changed all of its flags to American flags, following backlash over the park’s inclusion of the Confederate flag at the entrance to its park.

Before Friday, the American flag was joined by flags for the Confederate States of America, Mexico, Spain, France and Texas. In a statement released Friday, a park spokesperson said they made the change so guests could “focus on celebrating the things that unite us versus those that divide us,” according to local station WFAA-TV. 

“At Six Flags Over Texas we strive every single day to make people happy and to create a fun, thrilling and safe family friendly experience for our guests,” spokeswoman Sharon Parker said. “We always choose to focus on celebrating the things that unite us versus those that divide us. As such, we have changed the flag displays in our park to feature American flags.”

Of the 20 Six Flags parks in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, one in San Antonio, Texas and another in Georgia flew the same six flags as the one in Arlington.

The park previously stood behind its display of the Confederate flag, but decided to make a change after the violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia last week, Fox News reported.

A group of protesters gathered to protest the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue from Charlottesville, but the rally ended with a self-proclaimed white supremacist allegedly plowing his car into a crowd of counter-protesters and killing one woman.  

Charlottesville police have reportedly issued warrants for the arrest of Christopher Cantwell, a white supremacist prominently featured in a Vice News documentary.

Cantwell is wanted for his involvement in the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend, where a counter-protester was killed when a man affiliated with white nationalists allegedly drove his car through a crowd.

The warrants are for illegal use of gases and injury by caustic agent or explosive, the Boston Globe reported.

Charlottesville police did not immediately respond to TPM’s request for confirmation.

Cantwell posted a tearful video on YouTube earlier this week after apparently learning there were warrants out for his arrest.

“I don’t want to. I don’t think I should. I honestly think that I have been law-abiding,” Cantwell said in the video, outlining the work his group did to gain a permit to assemble for the “Unite the Right” rally last weekend.

The group claims they gathered to protest the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville.

Another group that’s attempting to assemble in Boston this weekend — that claims they’re not affiliated with the “Unite the Right” group, despite advertising similar supporters and speakers — was given a permit to assemble this weekend.

The city set restrictions on the kind of activity that can occur, AP reported. No backpacks will be allowed or anything that resembles a weapon.

The city is allowing the Boston Free Speech group to assemble for two hours, from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m., and will only let 100 people into the gathering, though some supporters think as many as 1,000 could show up.

According to Cantwell, the FBI reached out to him to aide in efforts to keep the Boston rally from becoming violent like the one in Charlottesville, the AP reported. He said he would help, but said he did not know the organizers of the free speech protest.

In the Vice documentary, Cantwell explains his white nationalist views and his hatred for Jewish people. He said he thinks “a lot more people are gonna die before we’re done here,” responding to reports of the death of Charlottesville counter-protester Heather Heyer allegedly at the hands of a man who claimed to be an ally of white supremacists. 

He told the AP he wouldn’t attend the Boston rally because he wouldn’t be able to carry a gun.

In a scathing statement, Mitt Romney lashed out at President Donald Trump for his response to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend.

Romney said if Trump doesn’t address the division he’s created, “there may commence an unraveling of our national fabric.”

Romney was referencing the comments Trump made on Tuesday when the President blamed both sides for violence at a rally where white supremacists gathered to protest the removal of a Robert E. Lee memorial in Charlottesville. A white nationalist allegedly drove his car through a crowd of people who had showed up to counter-protest, killing one woman.

Romney said it doesn’t matter what Trump’s intent was with his statement, “what he communicated caused racists to rejoice, minorities to weep and the vast heart of America to mourn.”

The former Massachusetts governor and GOP presidential nominee called out the President for not speaking immediately and forcefully in condemnation of the neo-Nazis, like military leaders did, and said America’s allies may no longer come to the aid of a country they perceive as racist.

He gave the President some strong words of advice:

“The president must take remedial action in the extreme. He should address the American people, acknowledge that he was wrong, apologize. State forcefully and unequivocally that racists are 100% to blame for the murder and violence in Charlottesville. Testify that there is no conceivable comparison or moral equivalency between the Nazis–who brutally murdered millions of Jews and who hundreds of thousands of Americans gave their lives to defeat–and the counter-protestors who were outraged to see fools parading the Nazi flag, Nazi armband and Nazi salute. And once and for all, he must definitively repudiate the support of David Duke and his ilk and call for every American to banish racists and haters from any and every association.”

A monument commemorating the only president of the Confederacy was vandalized with tar and feathers this week, a local Gold Canyon, Arizona TV station reported Thursday.

The Jefferson Davis Memorial Highway monument sits along U.S. 60 and local authorities are investigating the incident, KSAZ reported. This is the second time a Confederate monument in Arizona was defaced this week and the most recent in a string of vandalism of Confederate memorials across the country.

The violence that broke out at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, when white nationalists gathered to protest the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue, has spurred on the debate over what to do with Confederate monuments.

On Thursday, President Trump proclaimed his position in the debate, tweeting that it is “sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and moments.”

His comments Thursday contrast what he said during the campaign when asked about what should be done with Confederate flags hanging at the South Carolina Capitol.

“I think they should put it in the museum and let it go,” he said in 2015.  

Watch the local news report below:

As the only black Republican currently serving in the U.S. Senate, Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) said the President’s comments about the violence that broke out on “many sides” at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend has put him, and everyone else in his party, in a difficult position.

In an interview with Vice News Thursday, Scott said he was encouraged by President Donald Trump’s remarks on Monday — 48 hours after the incident — finally condemning white nationalists and neo-Nazis, but said his comments during an unhinged press conference on Tuesday “started erasing the comments that were strong.”

Trump told reporters that the “alt-right” and the “alt-left” were to blame for violence that broke out and eventually led to a neo-Nazi affiliated man allegedly driving his car into a crowd of counter-protesters and killing one woman.

What we want to see from our president is clarity and moral authority. And that moral authority is compromised when Tuesday happened. There’s no question about that,” he said.

But, Scott said he was encouraged by the response by fellow Republicans and other leaders across the country, which was “exactly the opposite of what it was in the ’60s.”

“Racism is real. It is alive. It is here. But the response from the vast majority of this country is diametrically opposite of the response in the ’60s. We’ve had the United States military, generals, leaders, standing up and rejecting, completely, racism. We’ve had corporate America, which was fairly silent back in the ’60s, standing up very strong, very loud, and very proud,” he told Vice.

Watch the full interview below:

The violent events that transpired at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend has pushed the American Civil Liberties Union to take a tougher stance on the hate groups it defends in court.

The civil rights group will now screen its clients more closely and won’t represent groups who protest while carrying firearms, the executive director told The Wall Street Journal Thursday.

The ACLU’s Virginia branch defended the neo-Nazis’ right to assemble when the group gathered last weekend to protest the removal of the confederate statue of Robert E. Lee. The organization is known for its defense of the free speech rights of hate groups, claiming that creating exceptions to the First Amendment for hate groups make the less stringent for everyone.

“The events of Charlottesville require any judge, any police chief and any legal group to look at the facts of any white-supremacy protests with a much finer comb,” Executive Director Anthony  Romero told the Journal. “If a protest group insists, ‘No, we want to be able to carry loaded firearms,’ well, we don’t have to represent them. They can find someone else.”

The group’s Virginia branch defended the white supremacists against Charlottesville’s efforts to deny them a permit. City officials wanted the protest moved a mile away from the park to better accommodate the crowd. The ACLU argued in federal court that the city’s decision was based on opposition to the group’s views, not safety concerns.

Many lashed out against the civil rights group when violence broke out at the rally. A self-proclaimed white supremacist allegedly drove his car through a crowd of counter-protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Hayer and injuring 19 others. 

Several members of the group that assembled last Saturday were carrying firearms, but no one was hurt by them. Romero said the ACLU thinks just having guns at a protest can suppress freedom of speech through intimidation.

Just hours after a truck plowed through the historic Las Ramblas district in Barcelona, Spain Thursday, President Donald Trump condemned the incident and called it a “terror attack.” He said the U.S. would do “whatever is necessary to help.”

Not long after the attack took place, authorities labeled the incident an act of terror. But the President’s immediate condemnation of the assault as “terror” stood in contradiction to how he handled a recent car attack at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Trump claimed it took him 48 hours to condemn the white supremacists and neo-Nazis who incited the violence because he wanted to make to make sure he got all the facts about the incident before he put out an explicit statement.

However, Trump is known for jumping to conclusions — and is quick to call incidents terrorism — before he has the facts.

He claimed police were investigating the shooting at an Orlando night club in 2016 as an act of terrorism before it had been confirmed. He described a blast in Manhattan as “a bomb” before police had confirmed the nature of the explosion.

In June he condemned a “terrorist attack in Manila” that was later ruled the work of a lone gunman.

He tweeted again Thursday afternoon and referenced a questionable anecdote that he cited a few times during his campaign, saying people should “study what General Pershing” did to terrorists when he caught them.

“There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!” he said.

The tweet references a story about United States Army Gen. John Joseph “Black Jack” Pershing that Trump told during his campaign. He claimed that during the aftermath of the Philippine-American War of 1899 to 1902, Pershing “took 50 bullets, and he dipped them in pigs’ blood” and killed 49 Muslim rebels.

“The 50th person, he said, ‘You go back to your people and tell them what happened.’ And for 25 years, there wasn’t a problem,” Trump said in February 2016.

Historians have since debunked Trump’s account of the anecdote.

A Wilmington, N.C. resident has been repeatedly hanging a white flag on the gun of a statue of a Confederate soldier this week, despite attempts from neighbors to take it down, according to WWAY3 News.

The resident, Andrew Bopes, said he has been hanging the flag because he doesn’t understand why the statue is still there and gets tired of walking past it every day going to work and coming home.

“It doesn’t have too much of an effect on me except my empathy,” he told WWAY3. “There is no context as to why it’s displayed. It’s a participation trophy for someone on the wrong side of history. It needed some context and the white surrender flag gives it context.”

A local neighbor has been taking the flag down when he sees it up and told the TV station that since there’s “a lot going on in our nation right now” the flag could cause things to “escalate in this area and we don’t need that to happen,” the neighbor, Chris Dobrusky, said.

Communities across the country have grappled over what to do with monuments and statues commemorating the Confederacy in the wake of a violent white supremacist rally last weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The protest over the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee turned violent last weekend when white supremacists gathered to rally against the statue’s removal. A man associated with the white nationalists allegedly drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one woman.

After President Donald Trump lashed out against Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) Thursday for criticizing Trump’s remarks about the violence in Charlottesville, Graham shot back.

During a rocky press conference on Tuesday, Trump said “not all of these people were neo-Nazis, believe me.” He also said people on the “alt-right” and the “alt-left” were to blame for the violence, even though it was a self-proclaimed white supremacist who allegedly drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters and killed a woman named Heather Heyer.

Graham responded by saying he and many others do not support the “moral equivalency” the President made between the “white supremacist neo-Nazis and KKK members who attended the Charlottesville rally and people like Ms. Heyer.”

The President then lashed out on Graham on Twitter Thursday morning, calling the senator’s comments a “disgusting lie” and suggesting the people of South Carolina would remember what he said when Graham runs for reelection in 2020.

Graham responded by asking Trump to move the party in the correct direction.

“Mr. President, like most I seek to move our nation, my state and our party forward — toward the light — not back to the darkness,” he said, adding Trump’s tweet honoring Heyer was “very nice and appropriate. Well done.”

“However, because of the manner in which you handled the Charlottesville tragedy you are now receiving praise from some of the most racist and hate-filled individuals and groups in our country. For the sake of our nation — as our President — please fix this,” he said.

After debates between township and city officials in a community near Cincinnati over which jurisdiction actually owned a Confederate monument for Robert E. Lee, city officials in Franklin, Ohio have decided to remove the monument.

Recently, a monument ‘erected and dedicated by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and Friends’ marking the Dixie Highway has become the subject of a great deal of attention for our small community,” a Franklin city official said in a statement, referencing the recent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia that turned deadly. White nationalists and members of the alt-right showed up to protest the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue. 

As one of four Confederate monuments in Ohio, the Robert E. Lee memorial was donated to the community by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and Friends in 1927 and is located near the city’s Right of Way for the Dixie Highway, Cincinnati.com reported.

While the memorial is the property of the township, the city has the right to move it if it causes a public safety hazard, which officials said they would do.

“Our crews will remove the monument and return their property to (the township’s) selected location forthwith,” the city said.

The Franklin Township relinquished its right to the memorial over to the city, but said it was important to remember the “history of our beloved country.”

Whether events of the past may have been celebratory or unpleasant, it is important that we remember the culmination of all such events is what has transpired and shaped this great nation, including Franklin Township,” the township administrator Traci Stivers said in a statement.

The decision to remove the memorial — no new location had been determined as of Wednesday, Cincinnati.com reported — comes just as the President tweeted that it is sad to see the history and culture of our country being ripped apart.”

 

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