Trump launches African-American outreach effort for 2020

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During the 2016 campaign, candidate Donald Trump stood in front of largely white crowds and asked black voters to consider, "What the hell do you have to lose?"

Trump offered that same message Friday as he launched a black voters coalition in Atlanta, Georgia. While Trump's campaign had said his message would focus on his record and gains for black Americans under his watch, Trump instead spent most of his time demonizing Democrats and appearing to try to pit minority voters against immigrants.

"The Democrats have let you down," Trump told the crowd of several hundred supporters, including several who wore red "BLACK LIVES MAGA" hats. "They've dismissed you. They've hurt you. They've sabotaged you for far too long."

Trump spoke at the launch of a new "Black Voices for Trump" outreach initiative dedicated to "recruiting and activating Black Americans in support of President Trump," according to the campaign.

Trump predicted he would win reelection in 2020 with "a groundswell of support from hardworking African American patriots."

Such prediction have been met with skepticism from critics, however, given Trump's consistently dismal approval rating with black voters.

Trump has spent much of the last four years engaged in racially charged attacks, going after minority members of Congress, claiming "no human being" would want to live in "rodent infested," majority-minority Baltimore and insisting there were "very fine people on both sides" of the deadly Charlottesville protest against white supremacists.

Shortly after landing in Georgia on Friday, Trump retweeted a call from one black supporter for submissions for a "#MAGACHALLENGE" competition featuring Trump-friendly rap songs. Trump said he would be announcing the winners and inviting them to the White House to meet with him and perform.

"I think black Americans are not the audience for these outreach efforts," said Theodore Johnson, a senior fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice who is an expert in race and politics. While Trump might be able to maintain the low level of black support he received in 2016, or perhaps expand it by 1 or 2 points, Johnson sees little evidence the president can change many minds.

"I think this is not going to move the needle at all," he said.

Before launching the new effort, Trump met with supporters at a fundraiser that was expected to raise about $3.5 million for a joint committee benefiting the Republican National Committee, the Trump campaign and the campaign of Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga. Nearby, a small group of protesters chanted, "Lock him up!"

Scores of protesters also gathered outside the convention center where Trump was speaking, chanting, "Impeach and remove."

Carl Dix, of the group Refuse Fascism, said he thought the launch was aimed at trying to send a message to Trump's white supporters that he's "not a racist. 'I've got black friends.'"

In 2016, 6% of black voters supported Trump, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of people who participated in its polls and were confirmed to have voted. There is no indication his support is growing. Polling shows that African Americans continue to be overwhelmingly negative in their assessments of the president's performance, with his approval hovering around 1 in 10 over the course of his presidency, according to Gallup.

Yet Trump's campaign dismissed the numbers, insisting the campaign has seen favorable movement and arguing the president can increase his margins with black voters by bringing new people into the fold.

"The polls have never been favorable for Trump, and the only poll that matters is on Election Day," said senior campaign adviser Katrina Pierson.

The campaign has launched similar coalitions for women, Latinos and veterans.

Darrell Scott, a black Ohio pastor and a longtime supporter of the president who is co-chair of the new coalition and spoke at Friday's event, said that in 2015 and 2016, supporters trying to sell Trump to black voters could only point forward to things they anticipated from Trump.

"Now that it's 2020, we're able to point backwards and to some very definitive accomplishments that the president has done," Scott said. "He delivered on promises he didn't even make."

During his remarks, Trump pointed to passage of bipartisan criminal justice reform legislation, which Trump signed into law last year, along with his ongoing support for opportunity zones in urban areas and new investments in historically black colleges.

"I don't know anyone who's done that kind of work outside of the president on attacking those big issues or trying to stop drugs from coming into the neighborhood and, at the same time, giving people second chances," said Ja'Ron Smith, deputy assistant to the president and one of the White House's few minority high-ranked officials.

He also pointed to a series of economic gains, including the fact that black unemployment hit a record low last year, with fewer blacks living in poverty. But Trump and his campaign also have a tendency to exaggerate the gains, giving Trump credit for trends that were years in the making, seizing on momentary upticks, cherry-picking favorable statistics and ignoring more troubling ones, such as black homeownership and net worth.

But Trump also worked to demonize the Democratic Party.

"For decades, the Democrats have taken African American voters totally for granted," Trump said claiming, "They didn't do anything for you."

"The betrayal of the black community" by Democrats is "unbelievable," he told them, adding, "It's amazing you've stayed so long, to be honest."

Trump also tried to pit the black community against immigrants, saying Democrats care more for people who have entered the U.S. illegally than African Americans. He wrongly claimed that Democrats had shut down the government last year to secure benefits for illegal immigrants and said they have never done anything similar for the African American community.

A September AP-NORC poll found that only roughly 3 in 10 Americans say the things Trump has done as president have been good for African Americans. And just 4% of African Americans said they think Trump's actions have had a positive impact on African Americans in general, while 81% said they think they've been bad.

Yet even if he can't win over black voters, some suspect that's not the point. As long as the campaign can keep on-the-fence voters from casting their ballots for the eventual Democratic nominee, the campaign will be helping Trump inch closer to a second victory.

"I do think the main objective is to discourage turnout," said Johnson. "I absolutely think this is about creating doubt in black voters' minds about the Democratic nominee" so people feel like "there's almost no one worth voting for."

And he said fears were growing it might work.

"There is a pretty tangible fear among black Americans that Trump is going to win again because black turnout won't be enough to mute the white turnout," Johnson said. "There's a sense that in 2020 he's going to win again."

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Hampton University offers another semester to Bahamian students


A group of students displaced from University of the Bahamas by devastating storm damage will get to stay at Hampton University for another free semester.

HU announced Thursday that campus President William R. Harvey had decided on Oct. 31 to extend the offer to 43 students currently spending their fall semester in Hampton. They will now have the option of staying for the spring semester, with tuition and room and board covered by donations to the school.

“Thankfulness is a virtue," Harvey told the visiting students in a news release. "and every single one of you who I’ve talked with appears to be so thankful for what we have done. I’m going to issue a blanket order that those of you who are in good standing, academically and socially, I’m going to let you come back another semester, under the same auspices. Room, board and tuition. Free.”

The students ordinarily attend University of the Bahamas-North Campus, but their classrooms and dormitories were reduced to rubble by Hurricane Dorian.

Rodney Smith, president of the University of the Bahamas, formerly worked at HU as administrative vice president and chief planning officer. In the aftermath of the hurricane in September, the two campus presidents spoke by phone and soon arrived at Harvey’s offer of a free semester for any student who could get passports and other paperwork together in time to travel to Virginia.

It was hoped at the time that the North Campus would be in functioning order by the spring semester, but cleanup and repair has been slow due to the scope of the damage.

HU’s news release offered a comment from Bahamian student Kristoff Strachan: "On behalf of all the students, our parents, families, thank you. We are grateful to God that we have this opportunity and we are thankful for your kindness and gratitude.”

Harvey continues to say that once the school in the Bahamas reopens, any student in good academic standing will be allowed to continue studying at Hampton, but at the regular tuition price.

Anyone wishing to make a donation in support of the Bahamian students can contact the Hampton University Office of Development at 757-727-5002.

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Buffalo Wild Wings fires employees after alleged incident of racism

PHOTO: A Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant in Naperville, Ill., is pictured in a Google Maps Street View image dated October 2018.

Some employees at a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant in the Chicago area have lost their jobs after an alleged incident of racism against a group of black customers.

The alleged incident happened last month at a Buffalo Wild Wings in the Chicago suburb of Naperville.

Speaking to Chicago ABC station WLS, Justin and Mary Vahl of Montgomery, Illinois, said they arrived at the restaurant with their family and friends to celebrate a birthday when a host inquired about their race, saying a "regular" customer is seated next to their reserved table and doesn't want to sit near black people. But the couple told the host to seat their group there anyway.

After the group sat down, several other employees approached their table on separate occasions to try to get them to move, claiming their table is actually reserved for another party. They finally decided to leave for another restaurant and filed a complaint with upper-level management, the couple told WLS.

Mary Vahl wrote about the alleged incident on Facebook the following day, and her post has been shared thousands of times. She wrote, "A moment to hang out with a group of friends after a birthday party, turned into a discussion with our young impressionable sons about how we didn’t get kicked out, but willingly CHOSE to leave because of the unfair treatment we were being given."

An unspecified number of employees who were involved in the alleged incident have been fired, according to a Buffalo Wild Wings spokesperson.

"We take this incident very seriously and after conducting a thorough, internal investigation have terminated the employees involved," the spokesperson told ABC News in a statement Monday. "Buffalo Wild Wings values an inclusive environment and has zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind."

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10-year-old boy shot in back of head, in critical condition in Philadelphia: Police

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A 10-year-old boy was shot in the back of the head in Philadelphia on Wednesday and rushed to a children's hospital in critical condition, authorities said.

The shooting was just after 3:30 p.m. in the city's Frankford section, according to Philadelphia Police Department.

The little boy was walking home from school at the time, according to ABC Philadelphia station WPVI.

The gunman is not known and no weapon was recovered, police said.

PHOTO: Police gather after a 10-year-old boy was shot in the back of the head in Philadelphia, Nov. 6, 2019.WPVI
Police gather after a 10-year-old boy was shot in the back of the head in Philadelphia, Nov. 6, 2019.
PHOTO: Police gather at the scene where a 10-year-old boy was shot in the back of the head in Philadelphia, Nov. 6, 2019.
WPVI
Police gather at the scene where a 10-year-old boy was shot in the back of the head in Philadelphia, Nov. 6, 2019.

This comes just weeks after a 2-year-old girl, Nikolette Rivera, was in the shot dead in her North Philadelphia home on a Sunday afternoon.

Nikolette was in her mother's arms when bullets from an automatic rifle came through the wall and hit her in the head.

One day before Nikolette was killed, an 11-month-old boy, Yazeem Jenkins, was shot four times and critically injured while in the back of a car in Philadelphia's Hunting Park neighborhood.

"Yazeem is fighting for his life at Children’s Hospital," William McSwain, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, said Monday.

After those two shootings Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said weapons are "flowing" into the city "like a river."

"Outraged, disgusted, and heartbroken by the violence this weekend that claimed the life of an innocent 2-year-old and left another infant fighting for his life," Kenney tweeted. "Philadelphians should not live in fear of violence that could take away a child’s life."

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Kansas City Votes To Remove Dr. Martin Luther King’s Name From Historic Street

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The vote came less than a year after the city council decided to rename The Paseo for the civil rights icon.

Kansas City voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved removing Dr. Martin Luther King’s name from one of the city’s most historic boulevards, less than a year after the city council decided to rename The Paseo for the civil rights icon.

Unofficial results vote showed the proposal to remove King’s name received nearly 70% of the vote, with just over 30% voting to retain King’s name.

The debate over the name of the 10-mile (16.1 kilometer) boulevard on the city’s mostly black east side began shortly after the council’s decision in January to rename The Paseo for King. Civil rights leaders who pushed for the change celebrated when the street signs went up, believing they had finally won a decades-long battle to honor King, which appeared to end Kansas City’s reputation as one of the largest U.S. cities in the country without a street named for him.

But a group of residents intent on keeping The Paseo name began collecting petitions to put the name change on the ballot and achieved that goal in April.

The campaign has been divisive, with supporters of King’s name accusing opponents of being racist, while supporters of The Paseo name say city leaders pushed the name change through without following proper procedures and ignored The Paseo’s historic value.

Emotions reached a peak Sunday, when members of the “Save the Paseo” group staged a silent protest at a get-out-the-vote rally at a black church for people wanting to keep the King name. They walked into the Paseo Baptist Church and stood along its two aisles. The protesters stood silently and did not react to several speakers that accused them of being disrespectful in a church but they also refused requests from preachers to sit down.

The Save the Paseo group collected 2,857 signatures in April — far more than the 1,700 needed — to have the name change put to a public vote.

Many supporters of the Martin Luther King name suggested the opponents are racist, saying Save the Paseo is a mostly white group and that many of its members don’t live on the street, which runs north to south through a largely black area of the city. They said removing the name would send a negative image of Kansas City to the rest of the world, and could hurt business and tourism.

Supporters of the Paseo name rejected the allegations of racism, saying they have respect for King and want the city to find a way to honor him. They opposed the name change because they say the City Council did not follow city charter procedures when making the change and didn’t notify most residents on the street about the proposal. They also said The Paseo is an historic name for the city’s first boulevard, which was completed in 1899. The north end of the boulevard is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The City Council voted in January to rename the boulevard for King, responding to a yearslong effort from the city’s black leaders and pressure from the local chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a civil rights organization that King helped start.

U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, a minister and former Kansas City mayor who has pushed the city to rename a street for King for years, was at Sunday’s rally. He said the protesters were welcome, but he asked them to consider the damage that would be done if Kansas City removed King’s name.

“I am standing here simply begging you to sit down. This is not appropriate in a church of Jesus Christ,” Cleaver told the group.

Tim Smith, who organized the protest, said it was designed to force the black Christian leaders who had mischaracterized the Save the Paseo group as racist to “say it to our faces.”

“If tonight, someone wants to characterize what we did as hostile, violent, or uncivil, it’s a mischaracterization of what happened,” Smith said. “We didn’t say anything, we didn’t do anything, we just stood.”

The Rev. Vernon Howard, president of the Kansas City chapter of the SCLU, told The Associated Press that the King street sign is a powerful symbol for everyone but particularly for black children.

“I think that only if you are a black child growing up in the inner city lacking the kind of resources, lacking the kinds of images and models for mentoring, modeling, vocation and career, can you actually understand what that name on that sign can mean to a child in this community,” Howard said.

If the sign were taken down, “the reverse will be true,” he said.

“What people will wonder in their minds and hearts is why and how something so good, uplifting and edifying, how can something like that be taken away?” he said.

But Diane Euston, a leader of the Save the Paseo group, said that The Paseo “doesn’t just mean something to one community in Kansas City.”

“It means something to everyone in Kansas City,” she said. “It holds kind of a special place in so many people’s hearts and memories. It’s not just historical on paper, it’s historical in people’s memory. It’s very important to Kansas City.”

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