Trump Dodges His Racist Past In His Latest Black Voter Outreach

Isaiah J. Poole

Cellphone video shot by someone attending Donald Trump’s appearance at a Flint, Mich. church shows the Republican presidential candidate being interrupted and confronted by protesters.

The Associated Press reported Wednesday that when Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump visited a predominantly African American church in Flint, Michigan, he was “heckled by several members of the sparse crowd.”

Those weren’t just any hecklers, and the “heckling” was actually an attempt to bring to light serious issues in Trump’s past that he’s now trying to whitewash.

These were members of the Michigan People’s Campaign, who stood during Trump’s appearance at Bethel United Methodist Church to demand Trump answer for specific instances of racial discrimination by him and his companies. In addition to the church visit, Trump visited the now-closed water treatment center that for two years served Flint residents lead-tainted water, after the state government switched the town’s water supply without its consent, purportedly to save money.

“Donald Trump has insulted African Americans and discriminated against us for decades. He can’t use the suffering of the Flint water crisis to wash away his bigotry. His history of racism and speaks for itself,” said Michigan People’s Campaign organizer and Flint-area resident Lashaya Darisaw.

Erik Shelley of Michigan People’s Campaign was one of the people in the church seeking to press Trump with questions. He said seven other people were prepared to ask Trump questions about instances in which he was found to have engaged in discriminatory actions or made racist statements, but the group was only able to get a couple of questions in before the event quickly ended.

One of organization’s members asked Trump about his refusing to rent to blacks and Latinos in his New York City housing properties. Trump responded, “Never would, never would, never would,” before going back to his prepared text.

A statement released by Michigan People’s Campaign listed several key events in which Trump has been connected to explicit acts of racial discrimination:

● In 1973, Trump was prosecuted by the Justice Department for housing discrimination. His company refused to rent apartments to African American and Latino tenants, claiming that no apartments were available. Doormen were instructed to turn away prospective African American and Latino tenants. Trump paid a massive settlement.

● The Department of Justice went after Trump again in 1978 for housing discrimination against African Americans in his New York City units, in violation of his previous nondiscrimination settlement.

● Trump was fined $200,000 for discriminating against African-American workers at his Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City by having them removed them from the gaming floor of his casinos after a mob boss, Robert Libutti, complained about having to be in the same room as African American dealers.

● Trump was quoted in a 1991 book written by the former president of Trump Plaza Casino, John O’Donnell, as saying “Laziness is a trait of the blacks” and “Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day.” Trump has denounced the author but has also said, “The stuff O’Donnell wrote about me is probably true.”

Shelley said that someone in the group tried to get Trump to answer another question before the pastor of the church, Rev. Faith Green Timmons, intervened, saying that Trump “is a guest in my church and you will respect him.”

Shelley said he tried to get one more question in as Trump was leaving the church, asking him if he was sorry he refused to rent apartments he owned to black and Latino people. Trump capped his latest effort at “outreach” to people of color by ignoring the question.

This post has been revised based on video of the event.

Get updates in your inbox