Texas Senator Ted Cruz and a number of other prominent Republicans have called for a car attack in Virginia to be labeled domestic terrorism, and the FBI has announced it is investigating the incident as a federal civil rights case.
'I urge the Department of Justice to immediately investigate and prosecute this grotesque act of domestic terrorism,' Cruz said in a statement responding to the Saturday attack in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Other Republican senators quickly jumped to label the incident terrorism as well.
Arrested and charged with second-degree murder in the attack was James Alex Fields Jr, 20, of Maumee, Ohio.
A Dodge Challenger (pictured) plowed into counter protesters, killing one woman and hospitalizing 19 others. Many Republican senators are calling the incident terrorism
Senator Ted Cruz (pictured) and a number of other prominent Republicans have called for a car attack in Virginia to be labeled domestic terrorism
Cruz urged the Department of Justice to investigate the car attack, which the FBI announced on Saturday that it would do
James Alex Fields Jr (far left with glasses), of Maumee, Ohio, was arrested on Saturday after he 'intentionally drove his vehicle into a crowd of anti-fascists at white nationalist rally, killing one woman and injuring 19 others in Charlottesville, Virginia
James Alex Fields Jr (left and right), of Maumee, Ohio, was arrested on Saturday in the car rampage that killed one. The FBI is investigating the incident as a civil rights case
Field's mother, Samantha Bloom, told the Toledo Blade that he had texted her on Friday to say he was going to an 'alt-right' rally in Virginia.
'I told him to be careful,' she told the newspaper. '(And) if they're going to rally to make sure he's doing it peacefully.'
Fields was pictured marching with white identity group Vanguard America at the Saturday rally in Charlottesville, which erupted into chaos as police and antifa clashed with protesters before the rally could begin.
President Donald Trump admonished the day's tragic events, saying in a press conference: 'We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, violence, on many sides... The hate and division must stop, and must stop right now.'
But Trump's failure to condemn the act as 'terrorism' was met with harsh criticism.
Republican strategist Ana Navarro commented on Trump's statement and said: 'This is not "many sides". It's White Supremacist Terrorism. The President of the United States does not have the spine to say so. Shameful.'
Republican leaders like Florida Senator Marco Rubio called out the president for not describing the events in Charlottesville for what they were, 'a terror attack by #whitesupremacists'.
Other Republican senators chimed in on similar notes.
'The tragedy in Charlottesville this afternoon was domestic terrorism. We must all condemn hatred and white nationalism,' Rob Portman, the Republican senator from the suspect's home state of Ohio, said in a statement.
'This is nothing short of domestic terrorism & should be named as such,' tweeted Cory Gardener, a Republican senator from Colorado.
'What " WhiteNatjonalist" [sic] are doing in Charlottesville is homegrown terrorism that can't be tolerated anymore that what Any extremist does,' wrote Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley.
White nationalists reacted skeptically at the push to label the incident terrorism.
'They’ve been looking for the great white terrorist forever now, so they’re jumping all over this,' wrote Andrew Anglin, publisher of the alt-right website The Daily Stormer.
Meanwhile, the FBI's Richmond field office said on Saturday that the Department of Justice was opening a federal civil rights investigation 'into the circumstances of the deadly vehicular incident that occurred earlier Saturday morning'.
The FBI's Richmond field office said on Saturday that the Department of Justice was opening a federal civil rights investigation
Rescue personnel help an injured woman after a car ran into a large group of counter protesters. There were several hundred people marching in a long line when the car drove into a group of them
Fields was apprehended and is currently in police custody. He was arrested a few blocks away from the bloody scene. Fields is being held without bail at the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail
Fields allegedly crossed state lines to attend the rally before the attack, giving the federal government jurisdiction to investigate.
The FBI declined to comment further, citing an ongoing investigation.
In a statement, Attorney General Jeff Sessions says U.S. Attorney Rick Mountcastle has begun the investigation and will have the full support of the Justice Department.
Sessions says, 'The violence and deaths in Charlottesville strike at the heart of American law and justice.'
He adds, 'When such actions arise from racial bigotry and hatred, they betray our core values and cannot be tolerated.'