“By declaring his 2024 presidential bid, Trump is declaring the war on Black people in America once again,” says Black Lives Matter PAC.
After Donald Trump announced his third bid for the White House on Tuesday, the campaign arm of the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation quickly condemned the twice-impeached president in no uncertain terms.
“By declaring his 2024 presidential bid, Trump is declaring the war on Black people in America once again,” said a statement from Black Lives Matter PAC. “His entire political career has been grounded in anti-progressive, homophobic, transphobic and anti-democratic action and rhetoric that is rooted in white supremacy and anti-Black racism.”
Trump’s false claims of mass voter fraud upon losing the 2020 presidential election led to a violent attack on the U.S. Capitol after numerous lawsuits — many of which were filed in predominantly Black and Latino-populated counties — failed to overturn vote counts that declared Joe Biden the duly elected president.
For many Black Americans, the Republican president’s attempt to overturn the election was a direct assault against Black voters across the country, who activists and elected officials say continue to be suppressed at the voting booth because of their strong turnout for Democrats.
Though he was impeached twice by the U.S. House of Representatives, Trump was never ousted from the presidency nor barred from seeking future office. But as Trump enters the early stages of the 2024 election, numerous legal battles and investigations are hanging over his head.
In New York, Attorney General Letitia James is suing former president’s Trump Organization for tax fraud. In Fulton County, Georgia, District Attorney Fani Willis is investigating Trump’s role in trying to overturn the county’s 2020 election results. And in Washington, Trump faces an FBI probe into his possession of classified documents and a subpoena from a Congressional committee that Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss. heads. The Jan. 6 committee seeks to depose him for his actions related to inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection. To date, Trump has not been criminally charged and has yet to be held accountable, financially or otherwise.
“It is an epic failure of our criminal legal system that Trump, having committed so many crimes in plain sight for years, was able to freely stand on that stage and announce his third run for President,” tweeted U.S. Rep. Mondaire Jones, D-N.Y., who said as a Black American, “it’s really hard for me to shake” Trump’s announced third run for president.
Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., called out the racial injustice many see in the U.S. criminal justice system as it relates to the lack of accountability thus far for Trump. Recalling the death of a New York City teen who was imprisoned for nearly three years without a trial, Bowman tweeted, “Kalief Browder was caged for 2 1/2 years for a crime he didn’t commit, he was released without trial and died shortly thereafter. The trauma unbearable.”
He added, “Trump incited an insurrection, committed sexual assaults, fraud and possible treason. He gets to run for President. America.”
Svante Myrick, executive director of People For the American Way, a progressive advocacy group, tells theGrio that another four years of a Trump presidency would be “dangerous” for Black, brown, LGBTQ, and other marginalized communities.
“Trump is uniquely dangerous because he goes from benign neglect, which is what they called it under [President Ronald] Reagan, to actually malicious intent,” says Myrick. “He proved that he was willing to wield the powers of that office to go out of his way to pick on, to hurt and humiliate folks who have already had it the toughest in our country.”
During Trump’s presidency, hate crimes saw the highest spike in 25 years, second only to the spike after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, according to the Brookings Institute. Angela Angel, the senior advisor to Black Lives Matter PAC, said in a public statement that white supremacist ideology has spread across the United States since Trump emerged into politics.
“Whether it be the attempt to ban critical race theory and teaching about America’s racist history in schools to Black people suffering the most from a recent (and still ongoing) public health crisis, Trump’s dangerous rhetoric and boldness behind a presidency is beyond dangerous and life-threatening to Black people across the entire country, as it dominates spaces outside of politics,” says Angel.
The Human Rights Campaign, one of the nation’s most prominent LGBTQ+ organizations, issued a press release highlighting Trump’s “timeline of hate.” The organization noted that as president, Trump appointed anti-LGBTQ judges, banned transgender service members from the military and rolled back Obama-era non-discrimination protections, among other executive actions.
Trump also gutted key environmental justice policies like the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act that were geared toward tackling pollution, which disproportionately impacts Black communities, says Myrick. But what troubles Black leaders and members of Congress most is the role Trump could play in further disrupting democratic norms and safeguards.
Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett, D-U.S.Virgin Islands, who served as an impeachment manager for Trump’s second impeachment trial in 2021, tells theGrio that while she believes American voters would “reject” him in a general election for a second time— assuming he clinches the Republican nomination in 2024 — she does worry about another insurrection or attempt to “overthrow our government” in the event he is defeated again.
“I think that we should all prepare for that [and] I think that there will be heightened national security,” says Plaskett. However, unlike on Jan. 6, 2021 the Congresswoman says, there’s some solace in the fact that the Oval Office is currently occupied by Biden. “I have confidence that President Biden, along with the legislature’s legislative body, will take whatever measures are necessary to ensure the safety of our democracy and the American people during the election cycle.”
On Capitol Hill, U.S. Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., who also served as an impeachment manager, is proposing a bill that would prevent Trump from holding office under the 14th Amendment, which contains a “disqualification clause” that states that public officials should not be allowed “to hold any office” if they “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”
Plaskett says while she “understand[s] the sentiment” of Cicilline’s effort, she’s “not sure where that would go in the Senate.” She notes that during Trump’s two impeachment trials, the then-Republican majority Senate voted against convicting Trump and barring him from future office. Even in a Democratic majority, Senate Democrats would need enough Republican support to reach the 60-vote threshold to pass any bill that would block Trump’s candidacy.
“While I think that potentially such a bill would pass the House, I can’t see how we could have sufficient numbers of the Senate, under the Senate cloture rules,” says Plaskett.
Despite the worries members of Congress and advocacy groups share about a Trump return to politics, some are confident that voters will rebuff his claim to the Oval Office. “I have confidence that the American people will soundly let the former president know that he’s barred from running for office by not reelecting him to the position that he’s running for,” says Plaskett.
Myrick of People For the American Way says the “good news” is that the 2022 midterm election results made it “clear that the tide has turned since [Trump’s] election in 2016.”
“He’s swimming against no red wave this year. His closest acolytes — election deniers — most of them lost their own elections. The voters who came out … [and] they’re looking for fresh leadership,” he says. “Trump’s time is over.”
Gerren Keith Gaynor is the Managing Editor of Politics and Washington Correspondent at theGrio. He is based in Washington, D.C.
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