Rep. Ritchie Torres at a rally against GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump in East Tremont on May 23. By Mia Hollie.

                      Congressman, Assembly members hold outdoor rallies, denouncing Trump’s campaign stop in the Bronx

Elected officials representing districts across the South Bronx held rallies on Thursday, in response to a whistle stop by the Republican candidate for president, Donald Trump, who addressed his own supporters in their districts.

Rep. Ritchie Torres (D) held a rally for some 30 on Thursday morning at Walter Gladwin Park in East Tremont, under a tent in a thunderstorm. 

“The South Bronx has no greater enemy than Donald Trump,” Torres said, to a backdrop of posters quoting statements Trump has made, or that have been attributed to him over the years, deriding Blacks and Latinos. Those included, “Laziness is a trait in Blacks. It really is. I believe that,” and “Why are we having all these people from sh*th*le countries come here,” referring to immigrants from Haiti and Africa.

The content of Torres’ speech closely followed an editorial he penned for the New York Daily News on May 21, in which  he blamed Trump for undermining public housing, benefits programs, and reproductive care, and for badly mismanaging the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The former president “is a criminal suspect faced with 91 felony counts, desperately searching for self pardon,” said Torres, and drew the loudest cheers of the morning when he added, “The only place in the Bronx where he has any business being is in Bronx Criminal Court.”

Trump’s efforts to make inroads in the deep blue South Bronx should serve as a call to action for President Biden, said Torres, adding the president should meet with local leaders and youth “and hear what they have to say,” to stir up more interest and awareness as the November election approaches.

At a second counter rally timed to take place at the same time as the Trump event, Democratic Assemblywoman Amanda Septimo gathered with workers from labor unions 1199 SEIU and LiUNA outside Crotona Park, to call attention to the negative effects Trump policies have had on the Bronx.

“He talks about cutting social security,” said Septimo. “He talks about cutting access to Medicare and Medicaid. He talks about deporting immigrants. Every single day he comes up with a new creative way to hurt our community more.”

With notoriously high asthma and diabetes rates, South Bronx residents depend heavily on the city’s Health & Hospitals systems, including Lincoln Medical Center, for affordable access to health care. Trump’s threatened deep cuts to health care and food benefits programs like SNAP would devastate many in the borough, Septimo said.

Trump opponents at a rally at Crotona Park on May 23. By Leandra Manon.

Assemblywoman Karines Reyes, who works as a registered nurse in Montefiore Einstein’s oncology department, recalled firsthand how her patients suffered during the height of COVID, as the result of government inaction during the Trump years.

“I was taking care of Bronxites taking their last breath and the Bronx had the highest death rate in the country because Donald Trump sat idle, denied the science, and our people died,” said Reyes, whose district includes parts of the south and central Bronx. “He is dangerous. He is bad for America. And he does not belong in the Bronx.”

Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson said Trump’s strategy is to drown out local voices, saying he was “bringing all of these spectators and outsiders and people that don’t even represent the Bronx.”

“There’s no way that we would allow someone like that to come into our borough and define our narrative. And so this counter rally is really about that. It’s countering what the narrative is that he’s trying to spin.”

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