Officials and political commentators nationwide Saturday are coming to the defense of Baltimore and U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings after President Donald Trump called Baltimore a “disgusting,” “rodent infested mess" in a series of tweets Saturday morningamid his criticism against Cummings.
“Rep, Elijah Cummings has been a brutal bully, shouting and screaming at the great men & women of Border Patrol about conditions at the Southern Border, when actually his Baltimore district is FAR WORSE and more dangerous. His district is considered the Worst in the USA......," Trump tweeted.
Cummings represents Maryland’s 7th congressional district, which includes much of Baltimore, but reaches into Baltimore and Howard counties as well.
Trump’s tweets appear to be related to a congressional hearing on July 18 over conditions at facilities holding children suspected of crossing the border illegally. Cummings during the hearing lashed out at Kevin McAleenan, head of the Department of Homeland Security, for what he described as conditions in which children were left to defecate on themselves and did not have access to a shower.
Several people have since taken Trump to task for his comments, including CNN anchor Victor Blackwell, who was born in Baltimore. Fighting back tears, an emotional Blackwell called out the president’s repeated use of the word “infested” while attacking minority lawmakers.
“Donald Trump has tweeted more than 43,000 times, he’s insulted thousands of people, many different types of people, but when he tweets about infestation, it’s about black and brown people,” Blackwell said.
President Trump tweeted that Rep. Elijah Cummings’ district is a “rodent infested mess” where “no human being would want to live.”
Trump’s comments have also elicited reactions from Baltimore city officials, including police Commissioner Michael Harrison. Without mentioning Trump, Harrison in a statement Saturday morning stressed that his department took an oath to protect and serve all of Baltimore “regardless of their political affiliation, class, race or religion.”
“It is important for me and the members of the Baltimore Police Department to remain apolitical. We all took an oath to protect and serve the people of Baltimore regardless of their political affiliation, class, race or religion. And that is what we are doing every single day as we work toward making Baltimore the safest big city in America," Harrison said.
Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young also took to Twitter to release a statement on Trump’s comments. Young said it was “completely unacceptable for the political leader of our country to denigrate a vibrant American City like Baltimore, and to viciously attack U.S. Representative Elijah Cummings a patriot and a hero.”
U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland also came to Cummings’ defense, tweeting that “Elijah Cummings grew up facing racist bullies like Trump and learned to confront them with qualities unknown to Trump: courage and integrity. The great people of Baltimore have something Trump craves but will never have as he degrades the Office of the President: dignity.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California also came to Cummings’ defense, tweeting that he’s “a champion in the Congress and the country for civil rights and economic justice, a beloved leader in Baltimore, and deeply valued colleague." Pelosi, a native of Baltimore, stressed that “we all reject racist attacks against him and support his steadfast leadership.”
Additionally, the Council on American-Islamic Relations on Saturday joined the Maryland State Conference of the NAACP in denouncing Trump’s tweets.
“It’s no secret that Donald Trump will resort to racism to deflect and distract the public, but this outrageously racist tirade is the latest reminder that he is unfit to serve as president of the United States,” said Zainab Chaudry, CAIR director of Maryland outreach. “He clearly believes he can attack one of the nation’s great cities because he perceives it to be primarily African-American - just another example of his racist and white supremacist mindset.”
Chaudry also pointed out that earlier this week, Trump doubled down on his previous attacks targeting Congresswomen Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar, urging them to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”
“These latest tweets reaffirm the NAACP Maryland State Conference’s position echoing the call of the National NAACP that this president must be impeached,” said Gerald Stansbury, president of the NAACP Maryland State Conference. “A nation is judged by how it treats its most vulnerable citizens, and we are ashamed of his rhetoric. America deserves a president who lifts our cities up, not one who heaps trash talk on them.”
Here is a collection of noteworthy responses to Trump’s tweets, both from inside and outside of Maryland.
It’s completely unacceptable for the political leader of our country to denigrate a vibrant American City like Baltimore, and to viciously attack U.S. Representative Elijah Cummings a patriot and a hero. pic.twitter.com/TJdbST6Md9
”President Trump’s most recent attack on Baltimore and Congressmen Cummings is an attack on basic decency. His words and behavior should have no place in our politics or society. pic.twitter.com/xV5x9My4MC
The tweets this morning vilifying Rep. Elijah Cummings and his entire district does not represent who we are as a community of civil discourse. President Trump's divisive and inaccurate rhetoric distracts us from the actual pressing issues facing our Nation.
Mr. President @realDonaldTrump, I have substantial policy differences with Congressman @RepCummings. However, I hope your criticism is not directed at the many good and hard working people who live in the district.
I am proud our campaign headquarters is in Rep. Elijah Cummings' district. Baltimore has become home to my team and it's disgraceful the president has chosen to start his morning disparaging this great American city.
Donald Trump’s tweets are ugly and racist. They’re purposefully designed to turn us against one another. We cannot let that happen. Instead, we must follow my friend Elijah Cummings’ example and keep doing the work for the American people. https://t.co/t7heu6k3wq
Once again, Mr. Trump reminds us of the embarrassment that he continues to be to the citizens of this proud nation. While challenged, Baltimore is a great American City whose contributions to our country both past and present are noteworthy and well documented.
Rep Elijah Cummings, my hero & role model, is Baltimore's heart. Trump's words don't stand. @RepCummings stands tall above & beyond them - in love, pain, courage, & hope. We stand. We are Baltimore. Show the world who we are. Share our beauty. Share us.#WeAreBaltimorepic.twitter.com/QaixhjZJ7g
.@RepCummings is an exemplary public servant. He fights for the left behind & unheard. Clearly the Occupant of the White House is intimidated by someone who is holding him accountable and exposing his abuses of power. The Chairman is effective& efficient in the pursuit of justice
Not that it really matters but Cummings' district has above-average college education rates and home prices, along with a pretty good mix of urban and suburban areas (even some rural), and well-off, working-class and middle-class areas. https://t.co/33mH7JreHwhttps://t.co/8VWBWVkRRD
Even Baltimore’s own filmmaker John Waters chimed in the discussion, telling ArtNEWS“Give me the rats and roaches of Baltimore any day over the lies and racism of your Washington, Mr Trump. Come on over to that neighborhood and see if you have the nerve to say it in person!”
I have to respond here. Baltimore, the place @realDonaldTrump says “no human being would want to live” is my home. It is the place that helped raise me, the place I still very proudly call home, the place where I’m raising my children. (Thread.) https://t.co/LvPvYui8Ym
I taught in West Baltimore. I adore my kids, their parents, and grandparents. They all want the same thing I want for my kids: the chance for their children to have safe, happy and productive lives. Let’s think about the language we use, who it hurts. https://t.co/Y5nIJdu2Ib
The average Baltimorean has more character in their pinky finger than you have displayed during the whole of your administration. Maybe you would know that if you ever visited our city. https://t.co/XnGBVQDJ1N