A crowd of about 200 protesters gathered outside of Great Faith Ministries in Detroit while Donald Trump spoke to the congregation inside. The Republican presidential contender was invited to speak by Bishop Wayne T. Jackson, who leads the church and Impact Network: a Christian media venture that broadcasts from the Motor City. Some bore pre-printed signs that read “No Antisemitism in the White House” and “No White Supremacy in the White House.” Heard from the crowd were chants of “What do we have to lose? Everything!” “Dump Trump!” and “No justice, no peace!”
Some protesters sought to overwhelm police barricades in order to enter the church. As they shouted "We want to go to church!", members of the crowd were held back by police on foot and horseback.
There were representatives labor unions and teachers, as well as the Muslim community, including two imams dressed in turbans and caftans. Socialists were also on hand at the largely peaceful protest under the gaze of Detroit police, some of whom were mounted on horseback. One elderly white woman, however, told Spero News that she had been pushed and accosted by protesters. Later, Spero News observed that she fled on foot as a black woman shouted “Got back to your city! We’ll kick your ass!” Police calmed down the situation.
At 80 percent, Detroit has the highest proportion of black citizens of any major metropolitian area in the country. In Detroit and in the surrounding Wayne County, it has the largest Muslim community in the nation. The city of Hamtramck -- which is an enclave entirely surrounded by the city of Detroit -- has a Muslim majority on its city council. It was once notable for the high percentage of Polish immigrants and Polish-Americans. It received a visit from Pope John Paul II in the 1980s.
Inside the church, Trump told the congregation that he wants to make Detroit the “economic envy of the world” by bringing manufacturing back to the bankrupt city. According to sources in the campaign, Trump met separately with approximately 100 community and church leaders in an effort to appeal for support from black voters.
With just over two months left before the presidential election, Trump has mounted a tardy effort to seek minority support. Even so, Republican presidential candidates in the last two cycles did not visit Detroit in advance of their defeats.
The church was about half full as Trump spoke. He said, "I fully understand that the African American community is suffering from discrimination and that there are many wrongs that must still be made right." Speaking for about 10 minutes, he received a standing ovation after saying that Christian faith is not in the past but in the present and the future. Also on hand was Trump’s former primary rival, Ben Carson – a Detroit native who took Trump on a visit to the neighborhood where he grew up.
Trump said that creating jobs is a priority that Democrats have failed to deliver. "I believe we need a civil rights agenda for our time, one that ensures the rights to a great education, so important, and the right to live in a good-paying job and one that you love to go to every morning," Trump said. "That can happen. We need to bring our companies back," he added.
"A lot of people don’t realize that Abraham Lincoln…was a Republican," was among the comments Trump made in his appeal to the congregation. His interview with Bishop Wayne T. Jackson will be broadcast at a later date. At the end of his remarks, Trump quoted scripture: “I’d like to conclude with a passage from First John, Chapter 4: You know it! You see most groups I speak to don’t know that. But we know. If you want, we can say it together. ‘No one has ever seen God but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.’” The audience gave him a standing ovation.
Video—Trump speaks at black church in Detroit: "A lot of people don’t realize that Abraham Lincoln…was a Republican" https://t.co/gkbf70u8hB
North of Detroit is the stricken city of Flint. Over the last two years, authorities finally concluded that there are unacceptable levels of toxic lead in the city's drinking water. Millions of dollars have been spent on remediation and the provision of drinking water while infighting continues between local officials, the state of Michigan, and the Obama administration. Trump told the newspaper that the "horror show" in Flint "should never have been allowed to happen." He promised to visit Flint in the not too distant future.
Excerpts from Trump's remarks:
"We're all brothers and sisters. We're all created by the same God. We must love and support each other. And we are in this all together. I fully understand that the African-American community has suffered from discrimination and there are many wrongs that must still be made right. They will be made right. I want to make America properous for everyone. I want to make this city the economic envy of the world and we can do that. We can do that again. Factories everywhere, new roads and bridges, new schools, especially schools and new hope. I have been so greatly blessed, and in so many ways -- with no greater blessing than my family. I have a great family. Nothing would make me happier and more fulfilled than to use what I have learned in business and in traveling all over the world. I've sort of seen a lot. To bring the wealth and prosperity and opportunity to those who have not had these opportunities before. -- and that's many, many people in Detroit."