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Actors, writers quit White House committee over Trump

Members of President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities condemn Trump's response to deadly Charlottesville rally.

Actor Kal Penn

Actors and prominent arts figures in the US have resigned from an advisory committee to the White House following President Donald Trump's reaction to deadly white supremacist violence last weekend in Charlottesville.

In a joint letter addressed to Trump, members of the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities (PCAH) condemned the president's insistence in equating the actions of both white supremacists and those protesting against them during the far-right rally on August 12.

A 32-year-old anti-racist protester, Heather Heyer, was killed and several people were wounded in a car ramming attack.

Trump repeatedly blamed "both sides" for the deadly violence. 

READ MORE: Social media users slam Trump over Charlottesville

"Reproach and censure in the strongest possible terms are necessary following your support of the hate groups and terrorist who killed and injured fellow Americans in Charlottesville," said the letter, which was signed by all members but one of the 17-person committee. "The false equivalencies you push cannot stand."

Actor Kal Penn, photographer Chuck Close, author Jhumpa Lahiri and Jill Cooper Udal, wife of Senator Tom Undall were among those who signed the resignation letter.

"We cannot sit idly by, the way that your West Wing advisors have, without speaking out against your words and actions," the members wrote.

The PCAH is an official agency which comprises prominent Hollywood, Broadway and others arts figures.

It works directly with the government and three primary cultural agencies. 

As first lady, Melania Trump serves as the committee's honorary chair.

Director and Tony Award winner George C. Wolfe was the only member who did not sign the missive. 

"Ignoring your hateful rhetoric would have made us complicit in your words and actions," the letter went on to say. 

The members also criticised Trump for proposing to cut funding for arts and cultural agencies. 

With the letter, the PCAH became the first White House department to resign.

Several people on social media noted a possible hidden message in the note - the first letter of each paragraph of the correspondence, when put together, spells "RESIST".

Most of the members of the group were appointed under Barack Obama's presidency. 

The committee was created in 1982 under President Ronald Reagan to advise White House on cultural issues. 

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