Donald Trump's visit to black church met by angry protesters

Mr Trump told congregation he was there to 'listen to your message'

Andrew Buncombe
New York
Saturday 03 September 2016 17:01 BST
Trump protesters march outside church in Detroit

Donald Trump’s attempt to reach out to African American voters by visiting a black church was met by any protesters who said they did not believe the New York tycoon was genuine.

Several dozen protesters gathered outside the Great Faith Ministries International church in Detroit, where he spoke to the congregation and recorded a question-and-answer session with its minister. “I am here to listen to you,” Mr Trump told the enthusiastic congregation. “As I prepare to campaign all across the nation, I will have the chance to lay out my economic plans which will be so good for Detroit.”

The Republican candidate said he believed it was time for a “civil rights agenda of our time”.

“I want to help you build and rebuild Detroit,” he said. “I fully understand that the African American community has suffered from discrimination and there are many wrongs that should be made right.”

In recent weeks, Mr Trump has appeared to be reaching out to black voters, saying they have nothing to lose by voting for him and the the Democratic Party has long taken minority voters for granted. Polls show that Mr Trump has virtually no support among African American voters. Some political commentators have said they believe the true intention of the black outreach is to appeal to moderate white Republicans.

On Saturday, demonstrators held placards and shouted slogans as Mr Trump arrived. One of the protesters, Rosendo Delgado, 62, of Detroit, who said she is Latino, told the Detroit News that Mr Trump “shoots from the hip without analysing what he is saying”.

Another protester, Toni McIlwain, said that many people in the city were still stung by the Republican presidential nominee’s visit to Michigan last month, when he went before a mostly white audience and declared: “You live in your poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58 percent of your youth is unemployed.”

She said: “People picked up on Trump saying “you're all just crap.”

“He generalised the total black community. How dare you talk to us like that and talk about us like that,” she said.

Seated in the front row of the church was Omarosa Manigault, a former contestant on his reality television series who has been helping guide his outreach to the black community. Also in the audience was Detroit native Ben Carson, the retired neurosurgeon who ran against the New York tycoon in the primaries and is now advising the campaign. “This a great man” he said of Mr Carson.

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Unlike his usual campaign stops where he confidently has addressed mostly white crowds that supported him and his plans for the country, Mr Trump's visit to Detroit on Saturday was intended to be more intimate.

Before appearing before the congregation, Mr Trump recorded a question and answer session with Bishop Wayne T Jackson, the pastor of the church. Ahead of the event, The New York Times revealed that a leaked document showed Mr Trump’s answers had been prepared in advance by his aides.

“I want to make race disappear as a factor in government and governance,” Mr Trump was advised to say at some point.

To a question submitted by Mr Jackson about whether his campaign is racist, the script advised Mr Trump to avoid repeating the word, and instead speak about improving education and getting people off welfare.

“The proof, as they say, will be in the pudding,” Mr Trump was advised to say.

To a question about whether he believed in God, Mr Trump was told to say: “As I went through my life, things got busy with business, but my family kept me grounded to the truth and the word of God. I treasure my relationship with my family, and through them, I have a strong faith enriched by an ever-wonderful God.”

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