DETROIT — Detroit-area clergy, elected officials and several hundred residents denounced Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s Saturday visit to a church to help persuade black voters to cast ballots for him.
Trump attended a ticket-only service inside Great Faith Ministries International as protesters picketed outside.
Chanting “No Trump!” and “Dump Trump,” many of them pressed against metal barriers that closed off the church parking lot from the street. Some tried to push through, but were stopped by security guards and police officers. There were reminders that the protest was meant to be peaceful.
“My question for Trump is are you here just to view Detroiters as props in your new image campaign, or are you here to have a real conversation where you’re finally going to give us the specifics on what you’re going to do to make American cities better?” Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, who didn’t participate in the march and protest, told reporters. “Mr. Trump ran a campaign through the nomination process of bigotry. He’s insulted Muslims, and Hispanics, and immigrants, and prisoners of war, and African-Americans, and women.”
The Rev. Lawrence Glass, the president of the Council of Baptist Pastors of Detroit and Vicinity, said Trump represents “politics of fear and hate” and “minorities of all kinds have much to lose taking a chance on someone like” him.
Bishop Wayne T. Jackson invited Trump to his church and was expected to interview him in private for the pastor’s Christian television network.
“I am here to listen to you. I am here to learn,” Trump told the congregation. “I want to help you build and rebuild Detroit. I fully understand that the African-American community has suffered from discrimination and there are many wrongs that should be made right.”
Emery Northington, 42, didn’t hear Trump’s address inside the church but was skeptical of the presidential candidate’s intentions.
“Here I am — an African-American in the United States — and he doesn’t have my best interest in hand,” said Northington, who works in auto sales and was among the protesters outside. “Some of his rhetoric is reminiscent of a third-grader and his temperament is dangerous.”
Daya Foster said Trump should leave the city knowing there is little support for him in Detroit.
“I love that we let him know where we stand,” said Foster, 62, a massage therapist. “He’s not thinking about anybody but himself.”