Trump, Rallying White Crowd for Police, Accuses Democrats of Exploiting Blacks


Forty miles north of the racially charged unrest unfolding in Milwaukee, Donald J. Trump spoke to a nearly all-white crowd here on Tuesday, accusing Hillary Clinton of complicity in violence against police officers and claiming to “reject the bigotry” of Democrats, who he said were responsible for the plight of many black neighborhoods.

It was a dual and seemingly clashing message, as Mr. Trump, in some of his strongest language yet, told a crowd of 2,000 people that he would restore “law and order” and that Mrs. Clinton “panders to and talks down to communities of color and sees them only as votes.” He blamed her for pushing a narrative that he said had helped set off the demonstrations in Milwaukee and other cities after police-involved shootings.

But Mr. Trump declined to hold a public event in Milwaukee, where 40 percent of residents are black, and instead decided to speak here, where 95 percent of residents are white and where many had said they hoped Mr. Trump’s rally would be a chance to celebrate the police.

Lee Albinger fly-fishing
Lee Albinger fly-fishing Tuesday in the Milwaukee River in West Bend, Wis. Donald J. Trump was holding a rally in the city Tuesday night. CreditDamon Winter/The New York Times

“The violence and the riots and destruction that have taken place in Milwaukee is an assault on the right of all citizens to live in security and to live in peace,” said Mr. Trump, who has not held a campaign event aimed at black voters in their communities. “Law and order must be restored. It must be restored for the sake of all, but most especially for those policing in the affected communities, of which there are many. The main victims of these riots are law-abiding African-American citizens living in these neighborhoods.”

Using language aimed at reassuring people in communities like this one that their way of life would be protected by his administration, Mr. Trump also vowed to increase the number of officers patrolling neighborhoods and to put an end to a “war on our police.” He repeatedly said that his policies would end the type of demonstrations happening in Milwaukee, and that Mrs. Clinton and those “peddling the narrative of cops as a racist force in our society,” share “the responsibility for the unrest” in the country. He added: “She is against the police, believe me. You know it and I know it, and guess what? She knows it.”

Mrs. Clinton has cast Mr. Trump’s statements as racist and he has responded by labeling her a “bigot.” Mr. Trump went further in his speech, saying that he was fighting for a “peaceful regime change” from the Democrats. He added that Democratic leaders had hurt African-Americans in cities across the country through their policies and neglect.

“The African-American community has been taken for granted for decades and look how they are doing,” he said. “The Democratic Party has failed and betrayed the African-American community.”

But, Mr. Trump has turned down repeated invitations to address gatherings of black leaders, ignored African-American conservatives in states he needs to win and made numerous inflammatory comments about minorities.

Before the rally, Mr. Trump met with police officers and attended fund-raisers in Milwaukee, which is still grappling with the violence that erupted after a police shooting on Saturday, but did not hold any public events. Mr. Trump spoke at 10:07 p.m., an hour and a half after the event’s scheduled start time. A campaign official said Mr. Trump had been delayed because he was taping an interview with Fox News in Milwaukee.

Demonstrators in Milwaukee on Sunday
Demonstrators in Milwaukee on Sunday protesting the fatal police shooting of Sylville Smith the day before.CreditJoshua Lott for The New York Times

Most people interviewed in West Bend, a Republican stronghold, said that they were concerned that the police were being unfairly criticized, and that Mr. Trump’s rally offered a chance to show support for a law-and-order presidency. They expressed support for the Milwaukee Police Department, saying it had been unfairly maligned after the Saturday shooting, in which a black officer killed a black man who officials said had a gun.

Jack Beck, 65, a retired bricklayer who lives in West Bend, said he planned to vote for Mr. Trump and did not blame him for making a low-key stop in Milwaukee, given the city’s racial tensions.

“Every night in Milwaukee, there is someone being shot, and they make nothing of that until a cop is involved, and then all of a sudden it’s always blamed on the cop,” said Mr. Beck, who added that he hoped West Bend’s black population would not increase. He tied much of the unrest in Milwaukee to his belief that black residents do not want to work hard and instead want to use police killings to get handouts from the government.

“If somebody is killed, they think we owe them something,” Mr. Beck said. “I don’t want to seem racist or nothing, but the black heritage has been raised in a certain way that there’s no incentive to get out and work, because all of a sudden you have five kids and there are no dads around.”

Others in this suburb said protesters had been wrongly targeting officers.

“I don’t think it is a problem — the whole ‘Black Lives Matter’ — that only black people are getting killed. That’s just not the case,” said Lori Griggs, 44, who lives near West Bend and said she was excited to attend the rally. “We should be supporting our police officers. I think that it has blown up every time that, you know, a black individual is killed. It’s blown up in the news. But you don’t hear about the whites that have been killed.”

Susan Martin
Susan Martin praying over her lunch on Tuesday at the Idle Hour or Two, a downtown West Bend restaurant.CreditDamon Winter/The New York Times

However, some said they believed that Mr. Trump had purposefully chosen to avoid Milwaukee and to focus on a crowd that would embrace him.

“Donald Trump is running a campaign where he is seeking to be the voice of angry white folks,” said Walter Bond, a local activist in Milwaukee and chief of staff for Teach for America Milwaukee. “So Donald Trump is here to sort of speak to those folks.”

Jim D’Angelo, 52, a Republican who lives in West Bend and works in sales, said he planned to vote for Mr. Trump and believed the candidate had been mischaracterized by his opponents as a racist and a misogynist.

“There’s no racial motivation to what he is doing here,” Mr. D’Angelo said. “He’s coming to Washington County, which is a Republican stronghold. Republicans win this county all the time. So he’s coming to beef up his base.”

Cindy Limburg, 64, an accountant who lives in West Bend, said that she had not decided whom she would vote for, but that she was scared by the tensions that accompanied Mr. Trump’s rallies. She grew up in Detroit and left at 19 to escape racial strife that she said plagued the city. She settled in West Bend in 1991.

“I am concerned about the violence that seems to be circling him and everywhere he goes,” she said. “I was in high school during the ’60s riots. I worked really, really hard to overcome the racial and social stigmas that go along with the Detroit attitudes and the big-city environments. And what I am seeing in Milwaukee breaks my heart, because it brings me back to all those awful memories of what occurred back then.”


NY Times


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