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Charlottesville mayor calls for quick removal of statue that sparked protests

Violence breaks out the night before Virginia city braces for white nationalist rally
Hundreds of white marchers with blazing torches clashed briefly with counter-protesters on the Charlottesville campus of the University of Virginia on Friday, Aug. 11.

The mayor of Charlottesville called Friday for an emergency meeting of state lawmakers to allow the city to swiftly remove the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Mayor Mike Signer’s statement comes nearly a week after white supremacists descended on the city and violently clashed with counter protesters. One woman was killed Saturday when a car plowed into a crowd of people there to condemn what is believed to be the largest gathering of white supremacists in a decade.

Signer said the attack has transformed the monuments from “equestrian statues into lightning rods.” He called on Gov. Terry McAuliffe to convene a special session of the General Assembly.

READ MORE: Charities are cancelling fundraising events at Mar-a-Lago following Trump’s Charlottesville comments

“We can, and we must, respond by denying the Nazis and the KKK and the so-called alt-right the twisted totem they seek,” Signer said.

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Also Friday, the mother of a woman who was killed while protesting the rally said that she won’t talk to President Donald Trump because of comments he made after her daughter’s death.

WATCH:¬†Mother of woman killed in Charlottesville says she won’t take President Trump’s phone call

Mother of woman killed in Charlottesville says she won’t take President Trump’s phone call
Mother of woman killed in Charlottesville says she won’t take President Trump’s phone call

Speaking on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Susan Bro said she initially missed the first few calls to her from the White House. But she said “now I will not” talk to the president after a news conference in which Trump equated violence by white supremacists at the rally with violence by those protesting the rally.

Bro’s daughter, 32-year-old Heather Heyer, was killed and 19 others were injured when the driver rammed a car into a crowd of demonstrators. An Ohio man, James Alex Fields Jr., has been arrested and charged with murder and other offences.

In the hours afterward, Trump drew criticism when he addressed the violence in broad strokes, saying he condemned “in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides.”

WATCH: Trump defends Confederate monuments as more come down

Pressured by advisers, the president had softened his words on the dispute Monday, but returned to his combative stance Tuesday – insisting during an unexpected and contentious news conference at Trump Tower that “both sides” were to blame.

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“You can’t wash this one away by shaking my hand and saying ‘I’m sorry,”‘ Bro said of the president. She also advised Trump to “think before you speak.”