US PRESIDENT Donald Trump said on Saturday that he condemned racism as the nation marked the anniversary of deadly unrest triggered by a neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“The riots in Charlottesville a year ago resulted in senseless death and division,” Mr Trump wrote on Twitter.

He urged the nation to unite and wished all Americans peace.

Last year’s protests began August 11 and saw hundreds of neo-Nazi sympathisers, accompanied by rifle-carrying men, yelling white nationalist slogans while wielding flaming torches in scenes eerily reminiscent of racist rallies held in America’s South before the Civil Rights movement.

They had gathered to protest efforts to remove statues of Confederate leaders, including one of the Confederacy’s top general, Robert E. Lee.

When the demonstrations continued on August 12, fighting broke out between neo-Nazi supporters and anti-fascists from a group called Antifa.

The violence culminated with a man driving a car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing a young woman, Heather Heyer, and injuring 19 people.

In the immediate aftermath, Mr Trump drew broad criticism when he initially appeared to establish a moral equivalence between the two groups of protesters and refused to criticise the far right-wingers, saying there was “blame on both sides” for the violence, and condemning the anti-fascists who came “with clubs in their hands.”

“I think there’s blame on both sides,” Mr Trump said. “But you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.”

Mr Trump’s tweet on Saturday marked a dramatic shift in tone from last year and came as police started blocking off streets and mobilising hundreds of officers for the anniversary of the deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville this time last year.

An independent investigation of last year’s rally violence found the chaos stemmed from a passive response by law enforcement and poor preparation and co-ordination between state and city police.

Not long after his first tweet of the morning Mr Trump added a second tweet suggesting that he was working on achieving more racial unity through his economic policies.

Later on Saturday, Antifa protesters took to the streets and marched in memory of Heather Heyer who was killed at last year’s Unite the Right rally where dozens were injured.

On Sunday, organisers behind last year’s Unite the Right will hold a rally in Washington D.C. across the street from the White House.

In addition to that event, there are two counter-demonstrations planned for Sunday, one organized by Antifa groups and another by a coalition of groups that includes Black Lives Matter.