Philly political leaders of color slam Trump and his Friday visit

Electeds and reverends railed against the GOP presidential candidate’s meeting in town.

Rev. Edmund Sherrill addresses reporters.

Rev. Edmund Sherrill addresses reporters.

Chris Krewson / Billy Penn

Darrell Clarke is dismissive of Donald Trump’s policies and his rhetoric — but the Philadelphia City Council President couldn’t bring himself to utter the name of the GOP presidential candidate.

A mile down Broad Street, Trump was set to meet Friday at 2 p.m. with African-American Republican leaders in a private sit-down at a church. But an hour before that gathering — which drew dozens of chanting protesters, even more media members, and more police and lookie-loos even than that — Hillary Clinton’s campaign organized a press conference featuring Clarke, Pa. Rep. Dwight Evans, Councilwomen Helen Gym and Maria Quiñones-Sanchez and other Democratic political and spiritual leaders of color.

In fact, both Clarke and Gym — the event’s first two speakers — referred to Trump in terms other than his name; Clarke as “an individual” and “that particular person,” Gym as “the individual a few blocks down the street, “ as well as “a candidate propped up by people in the mainstream media.”

The first person to mention Trump by name was the Rev. Edmund Sherrill of the Mt. Enon Baptist Church at Fifth and Snyder in South Philly. But all the elected and religious leaders who spoke to a small crowd of television and public media journalists in a cramped, maze-like Clinton campaign office a block or so from Temple University’s campus harped on the theme: Trump’s “outreach” was a sham, a trick.

“This is not reality TV. This is rhetoric on steroids,” Quiñones-Sanchez said. “This is a candidate who called Puerto Ricans the worst of Mexicans. This is unacceptable…. I want people to feel a sense of urgency. I’m scared.”

A Hillary Clinton wall in the Cecil B. Moore Street office.

A Hillary Clinton wall in the Cecil B. Moore Street office.

Gym, the freshman City Council member, recalled Trump’s speech this week on immigration in Phoenix, Ariz. “As an Asian-American community member, when I hear about who is and isn’t a citizen,” Gym said, “I think of World War II internment camps.”

Evans, who beat convicted Philadelphia Congressman Chaka Fattah and is headed to a likely November win in the House of Representatives, would have to work with “that crazy man,” noted Clark. And in order to defeat Trump, Evans said, Philly political leaders were working to “make sure people are registered to vote. Make sure everyone takes part in the political practice.”

All who spoke took time to reference why they supported Clinton’s campaign. And even though not everyone referenced the Republican presidential candidate by name, all were clearly drawn to the event in opposition of his speeches and his stances.

“This whole thing with making America great is about turning back the clock,” Clarke said. “There was recently this conversation about ‘What do African Americans have to lose’ [if they voted Trump]…

“In all honesty, we have everything to lose.”

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Chris Krewson is the executive director of LION Publishers, a national nonprofit association that serves local journalism entrepreneurs build sustainable news organizations, and the founding editor of Billy Penn. He lives in Havertown.