NATIONAL NEWS

Protesters Chant Against Trump As He Visits Dayton, El Paso

Aug 8, 2019, 5:09 AM | Updated: Jun 8, 2022, 5:03 pm
EL PASO, TEXAS - AUGUST 07: Anti-Trump protestors and a Trump supporter (R) argue outside University Medical Center, where President Trump was visiting shooting victims, following a mass shooting which left at least 22 people dead, on August 7, 2019 in El Paso, Texas. A 21-year-old white male suspect remains in custody in El Paso which sits along the U.S.-Mexico border. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
(R)

EL PASO, Texas (AP) — Aiming to play the traditional role of healer during national tragedy, President Donald Trump paid visits to cities reeling from mass shootings that left 31 dead and dozens more wounded. But his divisive words preceded him, large protests greeted him and biting political attacks soon followed.

The Republican president and first lady Melania Trump flew to El Paso late Wednesday after visiting the Dayton, Ohio, hospital where many of the victims of Sunday’s attack in that city were treated. For most of the day, the president was kept out of view of the reporters traveling with him, but the White House said the couple met with hospital staff and first responders and spent time with wounded survivors and their families.

Trump told them he was “with them,” said press secretary Stephanie Grisham. “Everybody received him very warmly. Everybody was very, very excited to see him.” Trump said the same about his reception in the few moments he spoke with the media at a 911 call center in El Paso.

EL PASO, TEXAS – AUGUST 07: An anti-Trump protestor holds a sign as police are lined up outside University Medical Center, where President Trump was visiting shooting victims, following a mass shooting which left at least 22 people dead, on August 7, 2019 in El Paso, Texas. A 21-year-old white male suspect remains in custody in El Paso which sits along the U.S.-Mexico border. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

But outside Dayton’s Miami Valley Hospital, at least 200 protesters gathered, blaming Trump’s incendiary rhetoric for inflaming political and racial tensions in the country and demanding action on gun control. Some said Trump was not welcome in their city. There were Trump supporters, as well.

In El Paso, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke spoke to several hundred people at a separate gathering. O’Rourke, a potential Democratic 2020 presidential rival, has blistered Trump as a racist instigator, but he also told those in his audience the open way the people of his hometown treat each other could be “the example to the United States of America.”

Emotions are still raw in both cities in the aftermath of the weekend shootings. Critics contend Trump’s own words have contributed to a combustible climate that has spawned death and other violence.

The vitriol continued Wednesday.

Trump’s motorcade passed El Paso protesters holding “Racist Go Home” signs. And Trump spent part of his flight between Ohio and Texas airing his grievances on Twitter, berating Democratic lawmakers, O’Rourke and the press. It was a remarkable split-screen appearance for TV viewers, with White House images of handshakes and selfies juxtaposed with angry tweets.

EL PASO, TEXAS – AUGUST 07: A demonstrator holds a sign depicting an assault rifle at a protest against President Trump’s visit, following a mass shooting which left at least 22 people dead, on August 7, 2019 in El Paso, Texas. Protestors also called for gun control and denounced white supremacy. Trump is scheduled to visit the city today. A 21-year-old white male suspect remains in custody in El Paso which sits along the U.S.-Mexico border. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Trump and the White House have forcefully disputed the idea that he bears some responsibility for the nation’s divisions. And he continued to do so Wednesday.

“My critics are political people,” Trump said as he left the White House, noting the apparent political leanings of the shooter in the Dayton killings. He also defended his rhetoric on issues including immigration, claiming instead that he “brings people together.”

Some 85% of U.S. adults believe the tone and nature of political debate has become more negative, with a majority saying Trump has changed things for the worse, according to recent Pew Research Center polling. And more than three quarters, 78%, say that elected officials who use heated or aggressive language to talk about certain people or groups make violence against those people more likely.

In Dayton, raw anger and pain were on display as protesters chanted “Ban those guns” and “Do something!” during Trump’s visit.

Holding a sign that said “Not Welcome Here,” Lynnell Graham said she thinks Trump’s response to the shootings has been insincere.

“To me he comes off as fake,” she said.

Dorothee Bouquet, stood in the bright sun with her 5-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son, tucked in a stroller. She told them they were going to a protest “to tell grownups to make better rules.”

But in El Paso, where more protests awaited, Raul Melendez, whose father-in-law, David Johnson, was killed in Saturday’s shooting, said the most appropriate thing Trump could do was to meet with relatives of the victims.

“It shows that he actually cares, if he talks to individual families,” said Melendez, who credits Johnson with helping his 9-year-old daughter survive the attack by pushing her under a counter. Melendez, an Army veteran and the son of Mexican immigrants, said he holds only the shooter responsible for the attack.

“That person had the intent to hurt people, he already had it,” he said. “No one’s words would have triggered that.”

Local Democratic lawmakers who’d expressed concern about the visit said Trump had nonetheless hit the right notes Wednesday.

“He was comforting. He did the right things and Melania did the right things. It’s his job to comfort people,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown, who nonetheless said he was “very concerned about a president that divides in his rhetoric and plays to race in his rhetoric.”

“I think the victims and the first responders were grateful that the president of the United States came to Dayton,” added Mayor Nan Whaley, who said she was glad Trump had not stopped at the site of the shooting.

“A lot of the time his talk can be very divisive, and that’s the last thing we need in Dayton,” she said.

Grisham, responding on Twitter from aboard Air Force One, said it was “genuinely sad” to see the lawmakers “immediately hold such a dishonest press conference in the name of partisan politics.”

Despite protests in both cities, the White House insisted Trump had received positive receptions. One aide tweeted that Trump was a “rock star” at the Dayton hospital.

The White House did not allow reporters and photographers to watch as he talked with wounded victims, medical staff and law enforcement officers there, but then quickly published its own photos on social media and released a video of his visit.

There was discord in El Paso, too. Rep. Veronica Escobar, the Democratic congresswoman who represents the city, declined to meet with Trump. “I refuse to be a prop,” she said in an interview on CNN.

Visits to the sites of mass shootings have become a regular pilgrimage for recent presidents, but Trump, who has sometimes struggled to project empathy during moments of national tragedy, has stirred unusual backlash.

Though he has been able to summon soothing words and connect one-on-one with victims, he often quickly lapses into divisive tweets and statements — just recently painting immigrants as “invaders,” suggesting four Democratic congresswoman of color should “go back” to their home countries even though they’re U.S. citizens and deriding majority-black Baltimore as a rat-infested hell-hole.

As the presidential motorcade rolled up to a 911 center in El Paso, it passed a sign aimed at Trump that said “Racist go home.”

Elsewhere in the city, O’Rourke told several hundred people that his hometown “bore the brunt” of hatred from the shooting but could also hold an answer to the strife.

On the eve of his trip, Trump lashed out at O’Rourke, saying he “should respect the victims & law enforcement – & be quiet!”

On his flight between one scene of tragedy and the second, Trump said he tuned in as another 2020 rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, excoriated him in a speech that slammed him as incapable of offering the moral leadership that has defined the presidency for generations and “fueling a literal carnage” in America.

Trump declared the speech “Sooo Boring!” and warned that “The LameStream Media will die in the ratings and clicks” if Biden wins.

Trump seemed focused on politics through the day. He mentioned the crowd at his earlier rally in El Paso. When a reporter asked what he saw during the day, he answered with claims about how he was received respectfully in both cities. Then on the flight home he unleashed another political tweet:

“The Dems new weapon is actually their old weapon, one which they never cease to use when they are down, or run out of facts, RACISM! They are truly disgusting!”

___

Associated Press writer John Seewer contributed to this report. Colvin reported from Washington.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

National News

Travelers at Terminal 5 at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) ahead of the Thanksgiving ho...
Samantha Beech and Keith Allen, CNN

Thousands of US flights delayed Sunday as major storm system hampers travel

As of Sunday evening, 4,944 flights into, out of or within the United States have been delayed, according to FlightAware, and 163 US flights have been canceled, the website noted.
22 hours ago
A teenager has been charged as an adult after police claim he killed another young person and confe...
Tavleen Tarrant, CNN

Police: Pennsylvania teenager confessed killing a girl on Instagram

A teenager has been charged as an adult after police claim he killed another young person and confessed on an Instagram video chat, asking for help disposing of the body
22 hours ago
A giant flag of IR Iran on the pitch prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between W...
Ben Morse and Wayne Sterling, CNN

Iran wants US team out of 2022 World Cup after it changes Iran flag on social media

Iran state media has called for the US to be kicked out of the 2022 World Cup after the United States Soccer Federation changed Iran's flag on its social media platforms to show support for protesters in Iran.
22 hours ago
Richard Fierro at his hime in Colorado Springs, Colo., Nov. 21, 2022. Fierro, who served as an Army...
Oren Liebermann, Eric Levenson and Travis Caldwell, CNN

Navy petty officer who helped disarm Colorado nightclub shooter speaks out for first time

Thomas James, one of the two men who helped disarm a shooter during last week's mass shooting inside Club Q in Colorado Springs, issued his first statement about his role in the attack on Sunday.
22 hours ago
Senate Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks during a news briefing after the weekly Sen...
Daniella Diaz and Michelle Watson, CNN

A Democrat senator doesn’t believe they the votes for assault weapons ban

Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut said Senate Democrats don't have the 60 votes needed to advance an assault weapons ban bill but expressed optimism.
22 hours ago
Massive blue ice sculptures with a starry sky....
Brooke Williams

Ice castles are constructed by hand one icicle at a time

Cold temperatures means construction on the Ice Castles at Soldier Hollow Nordic Center has officially begun, and it's coming together one icicle at a time.
22 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 reasons you may want to consider apartment life over owning a home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Take this quiz before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t let a ransomware attack get you down | Protect your workplace today with cyber insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
Protesters Chant Against Trump As He Visits Dayton, El Paso