Baltimore City Council condemns Trump's rhetoric, days before his visit

In its first official act Thursday, the new Baltimore City Council voted unanimously to condemn statements made by Donald J. Trump, days before the president-elect is expected to visit the city.

The resolution formally opposed Trump's "divisive and scapegoating rhetoric, rooted in hate and prejudice," a measure political scientists say flies in the face of new Mayor Catherine E. Pugh's goal of persuading the next president to funnel federal investment to the cash-strapped city.


"Boneheaded. I don't really have the words," said Todd Eberly, a political science professor at St. Mary's College. "For the council in a city that needs aid desperately and on the eve of hosting the president-elect, it is sort of mind boggling that you would do this."

Councilman Ryan Dorsey, a businessman who represents Northeast Baltimore, said he sponsored the measure as a way to affirm the city's values. The meeting was held hours after Dorsey, elected in November, was sworn in with the 14 other members of the council, all of whom are Democrats.


"Donald Trump's campaign struck a shocking tone from the start," Dorsey said from the council floor. "Trump routinely made wrongheaded statements about African-Americans in the United States. Here in Maryland, he referred to youths in Baltimore as having 'no spirit.'"

The council's vote drew cheers and applause in the crowded City Hall chambers.

Trump's staff did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.

The president-elect is expected to attend the Army-Navy football game in Baltimore on Saturday. It will be the Republican's first visit to the city since his election. The game will be played at M&T Bank Stadium.

During a stop in June 2015, shortly after he entered the presidential race, Trump said he "loved Baltimore," but then said the city was afflicted with "killings on an hourly basis, virtually."

"Baltimore is a very, very special case, and it's a very sad thing that's happened," Trump told reporters at the time. "Baltimore needs jobs and it needs spirit. It's got no spirit. None."

Pugh — a Democrat also inaugurated this week — told Republican Gov. Larry Hogan during the ceremony that she wanted his help imploring Trump to steer investment to Baltimore, especially a portion of the $1 trillion infrastructure program Trump has called for to rebuild American roads, bridges and airports.

"I already prepared my letter for you to go with me to Washington, D.C., to deliver to the next president of these United States," Pugh told Hogan during her inaugural address Tuesday. "When he talks about the infrastructure needs of an urban environment, I say, 'That's our city.'

"When he talks about creating jobs and opportunities, I say, 'That's our city.'"

A spokesman for Pugh did not take a position on the council resolution.

"Mayor Catherine Pugh congratulates the new City Council on their first meeting and looks forward to working with them on the many challenges and opportunities for our city," spokesman Anthony McCarthy said."She is also hopeful that she will build a relationship with President-elect Trump that moves our city forward."

Eberly said the council's actions could hurt Pugh's chances. He noted that Baltimore is in a different position than San Francisco, where city officials issued a similar condemnation of Trump last month.


"San Francisco is well off, got a great tax base," Eberly said. "Baltimore City needs to be building bridges, not burning them.

Eberly said the resolution is akin to throwing red meat to their voter base. Baltimore, like Maryland, is overwhelmingly Democratic. Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee for president, won about 60 percent of the vote in Maryland, one of her strongest showings nationally.

"This doesn't hurt them at all public-relations wise with people of this city and this state," Eberly said.

Veteran Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, of North Baltimore, said the action sets a tone for the new council and sends a signal to residents.

"I am very proud that we are one of the very first city councils in the United States of America to push back and say, 'Time for respect, again, in America,'" Clarke said. The resolution is "a great way to start off this new term of office in that manner by pushing back, 'Ain't gonna do it that way. We'll do it our way: respect, justice, fairness, balance.'"


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