The grief and sorrow in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, have begun to give way to anger and frustration in advance of President Donald Trump’s planned visits Wednesday, with local leaders and residents increasingly vocal in their assertions that presidential condolences, thoughts and prayers will not be enough.
People are signing petitions, planning protests and, in Dayton, organizing a demonstration featuring an inflated “Baby Trump” to express their discontent with a president whose anti-immigrant rhetoric was echoed by a gunman who killed 22 people in El Paso. And while the motive of the man who killed nine people in Dayton remains unclear, Trump’s silence on the issue of guns has been criticized by local officials who want action to prevent future massacres.
“He’s made this bed and he’s got to lie in it. His rhetoric has been painful for many in our community,” Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, D, told reporters Tuesday, adding that she supported the planned protests against Trump. “Watching the president for the past few years over the issue of guns, I don’t think he knows what he believes, frankly.”
The open repudiation of a visiting president in the aftermath of a mass tragedy was striking Tuesday as a growing chorus of critics made clear that Trump would not be universally welcome during a pair of condolence visits that will take Air Force One from the Rust Belt to the southern border.
Frustrated chants of “Do something!” drowned out Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s remarks at a Sunday vigil in Dayton. On Tuesday, DeWine, R, announced proposals aimed at curbing gun violence.
Trump could face a similar outpouring of frustration as he visits Dayton and El Paso. The White House declined to provide details of the president’s schedule.
“The President and First Lady are visiting these communities to speak with those affected, and thank the first responders and medical staff for their heroic actions,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement.
The visits could echo the president’s October trip to Pittsburgh, where hundreds of demonstrators gathered to protest Trump in the wake of a mass shooting at Tree of Life synagogue that left 11 people dead. Police said the alleged attacker had targeted Jewish people on a social media account using anti-refugee language that complained of refugee “invaders” around the same time Trump was railing against caravans of Central American asylum seekers.
(c) 2019, The Washington Post · Toluse Olorunnipa, Arelis R. Hernández, John Wagner, Tim Craig