Michigan Democratic Leaders Slam Trump Ahead of His Detroit Visit

Donald Trump, a name synonymous with controversy and divisiveness, according to Lt. Garlin Gilchrist, never forgave Detroit for rejecting him in both the 2016 and 2020 elections. This Saturday, Trump will return to the city, continuing his relentless campaign against political opponents, this time as a convicted felon. Detroit stands as a testament to his failed promises and harmful policies, particularly towards Black voters and workers.

“After everything Trump said and did during his presidency, I’m almost impressed by the audacity it takes for him to show up in Detroit and pretend he’s ever been on Detroiters’ side,” said Sam Inglot, executive director of Progress Michigan.“In 2020, he and his cronies openly tried to block the certification of election results in Detroit and disenfranchise the thousands and thousands of voters in the city who turned out to make their voices heard. Trump has shown his support for greedy corporations and Christian nationalists time and time again, in both his words and his policies—but he has never shown up for marginalized people or working families. If he hopes this visit will be well-received or that anyone will fall for the half-hearted lip service he’s paying, he is sorely mistaken.”

On Friday morning, ahead of Donald Trump’s visit to Detroit this weekend, a powerful coalition of local leaders held a press conference on Detroit’s west side at a coffee shop of historical significance known as Rosa’s. This Black-owned establishment, operated by Charity Dean who spearheads the Michigan Black Business Alliance, served as the backdrop for Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist II, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Charity Dean herself, and Pastor Cindy Rudolph. Their collective goal was clear: to remind all Detroiters, particularly Black Detroiters, that Trump is not for the people. It is simple.

During Trump’s presidency, the unemployment rate for Black Americans soared to nearly 17%. Black businesses shuttered at disproportionately higher rates, and Michigan saw the loss of over 280,000 jobs. In stark contrast, President Biden and Vice President Harris have been delivering for Michiganders and Black communities, achieving historic low Black unemployment rates, canceling student debt for thousands of Michiganders, and helping bring more than 400,000 jobs to the state.

Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist II minced no words in his condemnation of Trump. “Donald Trump is so dangerous for Michigan, dangerous for America, and dangerous for Black people,” he declared. “Trump only cares about access to wealth for one person, and that is himself. He was so hellbent on eliminating the jobs of hard-working people here in the city of Detroit. But, we can focus on the job creation that has happened under the Biden-Harris administration. It is offensive for Trump to come here, him and his Republican allies, when they made Huntington Place the epicenter of their ‘steal the election’ effort.”

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow echoed Gilchrist’s sentiments. “It takes a lot of nerve in my opinion for Trump to come back to Detroit and hope that people don’t remember what he did, what he promised and didn’t do, and what he says he wants to do again,” she said. “I was involved in helping to lead the effort to save our auto industry, this is our home team. Trump literally said you could let them go bankrupt. Our president, Joe Biden, is focused on growing the middle class and creating a fair shot for everybody to be successful.”

Photo: (L to R) U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Charity Dean, Pastor Cindy Rudolph, Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist II

Pastor Cindy Rudolph added a moral perspective to the conversation. “Using the sacred space of the church for a photo op seems disingenuous at best, and does not make Trump worthy of our votes. Instead of meaningfully engaging with us, Trump is making a mockery of the Church and he continues to lack the moral clarity necessary for the office of the president,” she said. “I’m confident that this weekend Trump and his MAGA extremists are going to continue to tout Trump’s false narrative of morality, equity, and inclusion. But for the future of our democracy, we must stand steady with President Biden and Vice President Harris.”

Local small business owner Charity Dean reflected on the devastating impact of Trump’s presidency on Black businesses. “I remember what it was like when Donald Trump was elected,” she said. “I remember in 2020 during the pandemic, Black folks were dying at a rate faster than their counterparts to the pandemic, and Black businesses were suffering. They were closing at disproportionate rates, and the relief that came, we couldn’t get access to. I am not just a small business owner, I work with Black businesses every day, and what we have seen the past three and a half years under President Biden has been a boom. This is not just politics, the numbers don’t lie.”

In contrast, the Biden-Harris administration has made significant strides in supporting Black communities. Their historic agenda has brought Black unemployment and uninsured rates to record lows. Recognizing the importance of every voter, the Biden-Harris campaign believes that they have invested heavily in Black media advertising and established 30 coordinated offices across Michigan, including in Detroit, Benton Harbor, Muskegon, and Flint. They’ve launched initiatives like the BBQs for Biden series in Detroit and Southfield, ensuring consistent engagement with Black communities.

Though many have concerns regarding Biden’s campaign efforts, such as the “Blacks for Biden” initiative and the “Biden BBQs” or salon/barber shop talks, which seem to heavily market his administration to Black voters, one must critically examine whether these efforts truly reflect genuine engagement or strategic pandering. As both parties vie for the Black vote with calculated political tactics, it raises a profound question: who is genuinely here for the Black community without an agenda? Who truly connects with the community’s needs and aspirations, beyond the optics of campaign strategies? In this crucial moment, it’s imperative to discern the difference between authentic allyship and mere political maneuvering, to ensure that the voices and interests of Black Americans are genuinely represented and respected.

Throughout this campaign, it has been a major focal point for Biden and Harris to be visible and active, engaging with local leaders, small businesses, and Black faith communities. They’ve delivered keynotes at events like the Detroit NAACP’s gathering and have maintained a presence on Black radio stations, with a goal to reinforce their commitment to addressing the needs and concerns of Black Michiganders.

Gilchrist mentioned that Trump’s vendetta against Black voters in Detroit has only intensified since his 2020 defeat. Following his loss, he propagated baseless claims of voter fraud, specifically targeting Detroit’s Black voters. He pressured Michigan officials to overturn the election results and lashed out at Republicans who refused to comply. Every court that reviewed the 2020 election found no evidence of fraud, underscoring the baselessness of Trump’s claims.

“For them to show their face in our convention center is so offensive and dismissive, yet illustrative of who they are and what they represent,” Gilchrist stated. “So my challenge to our movement is to make sure that we go out and tell that story aggressively.”

During Friday’s press conference the message was loud and clear, this visit to Detroit is seen as another attempt by Trump to rewrite history and garner support through fear and misinformation. However, Detroiters remember the economic devastation and social division caused by his policies. They recognize the significant improvements made under the Biden administration and the ongoing efforts to uplift Black communities.

“Whatever question you have about the future of America, the answer will never be Donald Trump,” said Gilchrist. “The answer will never be Donald Trump.”

According to Lt. Garlin Gilchrist and other Biden supporters, Trump’s record in Detroit goes without question: he undermined unions, destroyed jobs, and attacked Black voters. His policies and actions have left a lasting impact, and his attempts to vilify Detroit’s Black community have only strengthened their resolve to reject his divisive rhetoric. This November, Detroiters will make it clear once again where their loyalties lie, supporting leaders who genuinely have their backs and work towards a more equitable future.

“We refuse to let Trump and his cronies mislead Black, brown, and working-class communities into voting against their interests. Detroit continues to grapple with economic inequality and judicial rollbacks from the Trump era, including attacks on Affirmative Action. But we’re smarter than they think, as evidenced by voters upholding reproductive rights and rejecting voter disenfranchisement. Our new radio spot will highlight the truth: the far right’s efforts to dismantle public education and union jobs while giving massive tax breaks to corporations. We will continue mobilizing to ensure the polls reflect our community’s needs, reinforcing our values and resilience,” said Branden Snyder, Executive Director at Detroit Action.

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