Lawmakers presented the measure in response to the violence which erupted over the weekend at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Charlottesville native Heather Heyer was killed after she was struck by a Dodge Challenger driven by James Alex Fields, who had traveled to the city from Ohio to protest at the rally with fellow white nationalists.
“It is vital that we stand in total opposition to the hatred, bigotry and violence displayed by the white nationalist and neo-Nazi groups in Charlottesville this past weekend,” said Illinois State Senator Don Harmon, who sponsored the resolution. “They are the heirs to the Ku Klux Klan and the Nazis. We fought two bloody wars in opposition to their ideologies. We must continue to fight those same twisted ideologies today.”
"Diversity has always and will always make America stronger and better. We condemn these groups and their actions, as they are the opposite of what our country strives to be," Harmon tweeted over the weekend.
The Illinois Senate planned to send copies of the resolution to President Donald Trump, members of Congress, and Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner.
The move earned derision from former Congressman Joe Walsh, who slammed the Illinois State Senate in a tweet.
But he was immediately shut down:
...because Americans of all stripes and persuasions should be able to unite to denounce NAZIS. This isn't hard.— St. John B. Smith (@stjbs) August 14, 2017
Others praised the move as an indication that the state of Illinois is taking steps to denounce white supremacists, a move President Donald Trump and the Department of Justice have been hesitant to do.
After a weekend of equivocation, Trump took to the podium on Monday to try to clarify his denunciation of the actions of the violent white supremacist protesters.
He said: “Racism is evil and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the K.K.K., neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”
But Trump backtracked on Tuesday in a combative press conference with reporters during which he doubled down on his initial remarks from Saturday, saying "there's blame on both sides" and that there were "very fine people" among the white supremacists.
While Trump has denounced James Alex Fields's attack on protesters in Charlottesville as "a disgrace" and "murder," he has yet to call it an act of terrorism, as even members of his cabinet have done.