After Charlottesville, Trump remarks, more cities remove Confederate statues

The president's controversial comments led many CEOs, faith leaders and politicians to distance themselves, and more so-called "alt-right" rallies are coming.
9:56 | 08/17/17

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Transcript for After Charlottesville, Trump remarks, more cities remove Confederate statues
At a time when this country is consumed by the story of hate and violence that played out in charlottesville, Virginia the president for many Americans has brought little comfort. His remarks at a fiery news conference yesterday have been criticized for emboldening hate groups, and now some are worried that a rally scheduled for this weekend in Boston is only going to escalate things. Tonight we hear from many different perspectives in our divided nation in our new series "American flash point." You will not replace us! You had some very bad people in that group. But you also had very fine people. On both sides. White lives matter! White lives matter! I've condemned neo-nazis. Not all of those people were neo-nazis. Believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists. Reporter: It is the firestorm threatening to engulf the trump presidency. What about the alt-left that came charging at the -- as you say, the alt-right? You Nazi scum! Do they have any semblance of guilt? Reporter: While the president did condemn neo-nazis and white supremacists. They should be condemned totally. Reporter: And while he is correct that some on the left did get violent, critics say there really is no comparing the counterprotesters with the bigots who openly support hitler and the kkk. Jews will not replace us! To have the president seem to equate those people with the people who were protesting their viewpoints was something quite shocking. Reporter: While this administration is used to criticism, today the president's words led to a massive public rebuke throughout this country from business CEOs, faith and military leaders, and even on Fox News. Last night I couldn't sleep at all because president trump, our president, has literally betrayed the conscience of our country. Reporter: The fallout spreading into boardrooms of some of the country's largest companies. 11 business leaders quit president trump's manufacturing advisory council, leading the white house to end the council altogether. These are the leaders of American business saying we cannot work with this white house, we cannot even be in an advisory role with this white house, because we believe that what the president has said is racist. Reporter: A major blow to a president who prides himself on his business ties. When asked yesterday how he would heal the country's racial divisions, he said jobs. I think if we continue to create jobs at levels that I'm creating jobs, I think that's going to have a tremendous impact, positive impact on race relations. Reporter: Also today, some evangelicals who overwhelmingly backed trump in the November general election are now starting to waver in their support. Johnny Moore, an unofficial evangelical adviser to the president, said in a statement to ABC news that the way some in the administration have handled the fallout has been "Unhelpful, too emotional and insensitive." Many conservative Republicans have roundly condemned trump's moral ambiguity. Reminiscent of what we saw in Germany in the 1930s. The president has to totally condemn this. Reporter: Today the U.S. Senate's only black Republican, senator Tim Scott, saying in an interview, "I think you are missing four centuries of history in this nation." Though other conservatives like the pastor C.L. Bryant defend the president. Do I think president trump is a racist? Of course not. The president made it very clear how he felt about white supremists and how he felt about the alt-right and the white nationals. No father should have to do this. Reporter: On the ground in charlottesville today, a display of raw grief at a memorial service for Heather Heyer. ??? Amazing grace ??? killed allegedly at the hands of a young reported Nazi sympathizer who rammed her and many other counterprotesters with his car. As I listened to her friends and heard stories of my daughter and the way she was, she wanted equality. She wanted to put down hate. They tried to kill my child to shut her up. Well, guess what? You just magnified her. Reporter: Heather's legacy already being felt across the country. The city of Baltimore awoke today to find that confederate monuments had been removed under the cover of night. I think any city that has confederate statues are concerned about violence occurring in their city. Reporter: In New York City signs commemorating the confederate general Robert E. Lee were taken down today. And in Birmingham, Alabama the mayor ordered a civil war monument entombed in plywood, though he was later sued by the state attorney general, accused of taking an illegal action. Across the country there are more than 700 monuments to the confederacy sitting on public land. The majority of them in the south. Hello, everybody. Reporter: In his defiant press conference yesterday the president waded into the debate over the removal of these memorials. This week it's Robert E. Lee. I noticed that stonewall Jackson's coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next week, and is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You know, you really do have to ask yourself where does it stop? Reporter: History Mary rollin'son says that while many southerners rightfully want to celebrate their ancestors there's really no way to separate the history of the confederacy from slavery. The confederacy very explicitly said if we don't do this we are going to have, you know, social equality of negros and whites and this is just absolutely something that we should lay down our lives to prevent. Reporter: Meanwhile, in cities across the country they are bracing for what many fear will be more hate-filled rallies. Including in Boston, where there is an event scheduled for this Saturday. We also have a message to the hate groups, especially any that are planning to come to our city this weekend. Boston does not welcome you here. Boston does not want you here. Boston rejects your message. Reporter: Today we met the surprising figure at the center of this storm, college senior John Medler. Well, what we have planned is that we're going to have what we call a free speech rally. Reporter: He says he does not want Nazis or the kkk at the event. He says plans for Saturday's event were under way long before this past weekend's events in Virginia. So you're saying this is not a rally to talk out white nationalist, Nazi, racist stuff, it's about talking about the first amendment. Correct. So none of that stuff is going to be discussed? No. That is not our plan. Reporter: But opponents who are organizing their own rallies say the purpose is far more insidious. What we saw in charlottesville was it was a horrible tragedy that could have been avoided. And that's exactly what we're trying to avoid here in Boston. They might not have swastikas. They might not Sieg heil. But they still want Jews to leave the country. They want muslims to leave the country. They want a pure white race in the United States. Reporter: And they look at the incidents in charlottesville not as free speech but hate speech. Free speech can be hate speech. And I think that you do have a lot of people on the right who feel that this speech has been suppressed. But there is a difference between saying what you think and calling for a country that eliminates races and religions. Reporter: John medlar does concede that a previous event just this past may organized by his group featured mostly far right speakers and that his original line-up for this Saturday's event was very similar. The history of these people who were on your original speakers list, they're accused of saying anti-semitic, racist, misogynist, hateful things. Why would you want to give them a platform under any circumstance not wiwithstanding your robust professed belief in the first amendment? Well, I've been accused of apparently running some kind of a kkk rally. So I don't put much stock immediately in what people say about other people. I prefer to actually listen to them. We all have very strong messages that we hope we can all convey peacefully through our right to assemble. Reporter: The counterprotesters making sure their voices will be heard loudly and clearly. There is some level of risk that there may be people who do not have the same sense of peace, the same sense of allowing both sides to express their views, even if they don't agree. We will outweigh those sentiments. That we will be the light that pushes back the darkness. Reporter: They will be doing it, they say, in the spirit of Heather Heyer. ??? I hear music in the air ??? who was memorialized tonight by hundreds of people in a candlelight vigil and whose grieving mother moved so many Americans with her words today. Say to yourself, what can I do to make a difference? And that's how you're going to make my child's death worthwhile. I'd rather have my child, but by golly, if I've got to give her up, we're going to make it count. And for much more on this story tune in to "20/20" on Friday for a full hour special, "Fractured America: Extremism in the streets."

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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