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.
[ Trump calls Baltimore ‘disgusting ... rodent infested mess,’ rips Rep. Elijah Cummings over border criticism ]
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.
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.
[ A young Elijah Cummings faced hate when integrating a Baltimore pool. Trump’s tweets reopen old wounds. ]
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.”
Maryland Policy & Politics
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.”
[ David Zurawik: Trump’s Twitter attack on Cummings and Baltimore: undiluted racism and hate ]
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.”
[ More about Elijah Cummings’ 7th congressional district in Maryland ]
Here is a collection of noteworthy responses to Trump’s tweets, both from inside and outside of Maryland.
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!”