On Sept. 12, Charles Street downtown was the battle line between supporters of Donald Trump, who made an appearance at the National Guard convention at the Baltimore Convention Center, and a very zealous, “never Trump,” group. One scraggly joker on a bike approached the front line of the energized anti-Trump people, yelling, “vote Trump,” and spitting at some of them. Bad move.
Seconds later he was flat on his back, then dragged away by police. After that, the Trump troops clearly, as we say in West Baltimore, didn’t want it.
I sent a Facebook message to Tawanda Jones, the indefatigable, anti police brutality activist and leader of, “West Wednesdays,” who was part of the anti-Trump forces (along with me) after Monday’s confrontation. “We shut it down,” was her succinct summation of the day’s events. No doubt.
But, in my mind there was never any doubt really. Trump supporters (the vast majority who reside outside of Baltimore City) had asked for 2,000 people, “to greet Donald Trump….(and) pack the streets with overwhelming support for the next president of the United States.”
Anti-Trump forces outnumbered his supporters about 2-1. Although one report I saw suggested there were about 100 Trump supporters. If there were, a bunch of them must have been hiding on the bus they rode into the city on. Ultimately, Trump supporters from Montgomery County, or Harford County, the Eastern Shore or wherever they come from essentially loathe Baltimore City and are simultaneously terrified of it and its largely Black residents. So, there was no way the vast majority of the “Trumpers” were going to risk, “(walking) down the street without getting shot,” to borrow part of Trump’s twisted recent pitch for Black support.
Yet, despite the weak turnout for Trump downtown, be clear he does have support in Maryland, some of it from powerful corners, much of it insidious. The pro-Trump crowd was allowed to amass, and erect Trump signs on the private property of the Bank of America building on Pratt Street, because we were told by Baltimore City Police that they, “had permission,” to do so. What other major American corporations support Trump on the low?
The day of the Trump appearance in Baltimore, White supremacist and Trump supporter David Duke was posting photos of anti-Trump protesters on his Twitter account. How the hell did Duke get those pics? He certainly wasn’t roaming around downtown Baltimore, he doesn’t have the stones. We can only assume one of the so-called, “Trump deplorables,” I witnessed assiduously filming every move protesters made and immediately shared the footage with the former grand dragon of the Ku Klux Klan.
Speaking of the Klan, Trump, after his appearance at the Convention Center made a surprise stop at a popular diner, in Dundalk, once (maybe still) one of the last strongholds of the Klan in Maryland. Dundalk is in Eastern Baltimore County, where Trump captured 77 percent of the vote (compared to 54 percent statewide) in the recent Maryland Republican Primary.
Let me be clear; Trumpers are constitutionally protected to vote for him from Worcester County to Baltimore City in our state. The reason I decided to personally join the protest against Trump in Baltimore is because I was born and raised in West Baltimore, two minutes away from Mondawmin Mall where the uprising jumped off last April. Since 2007, there have been more than 2,388 homicides in Baltimore City of mostly poor, mostly Black males. During that same time (post zero tolerance policing policy) hundreds of thousands of mostly poor, mostly Black males have been arrested and a huge swath of those arrested were never charged with a crime or the charges were dropped.
We’ve endured the death of Freddie Gray, the subsequent uprising, the indictment of the six officers connected to Gray’s death (and trial of four), the searing Department of Justice Report against the Baltimore City Police Department. The plight of Black people in Baltimore isn’t a reality show, it’s real. Yet, Trump and his supporters seemed determined to make Baltimore a shadowy backdrop and it’s mostly poor, mostly Black residents and their pathology his props as he spews his often racist rhetoric. However, those who love our city have the right to let them know they can’t do it with impunity.
Sean Yoes is a senior contributor for the AFRO and host and executive producer of First Edition, which airs Monday through Friday, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on WEAA 88.9.