President Donald Trump kicked off his first major address to Congress on Tuesday night with a call for unity, condemning a recent rise in threats against Jewish community centers and schools.
"Tonight, as we mark the conclusion of our celebration of Black History Month, we are reminded of our Nation's path toward civil rights and the work that still remains," the president said.
"Recent threats targeting Jewish Community Centers and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, as well as last week's shooting in Kansas City, remind us that while we may be a Nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all its forms," he added.
The shooting in Kansas City, which he referenced, was his first public address of an apparent hate crime that was committed last week, when a man opened fire on Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani, two Indian-born immigrants and engineers who he allegedly taunted with racial slurs. One died while the other was wounded
"Get out of my country," Adam Purinton, the 51-year-old suspect, allegedly yelled before the attack. He has been charged with first-degree murder and first-degree attempted murder.
The White House formally condemned the alleged hate crime in a statement released earlier on Tuesday.
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While it was not his first time addressing the rise in Jewish threats, which Trump condemned as horrible during an appearance last week, Trump had faced criticism from some liberal opponents who criticized him for failing to address the Kansas City attack. Others insinuated he had failed to speak out against forcefully enough against a rise of anti-Semitism.
The White House issued another statement on Monday after reports emerged that 16 different Jewish community centers and schools had been targeted in a fifth wave of bomb threats.
Trump, whose daughter Ivanka and son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner are Jewish, has repeatedly described himself as one of the least racist people ever.