Adding insult to injury, mourners at a Cleveland vigil in honor of the victims of the attacks on two New Zealand mosques were interrupted by a pro-Trump float blaring music and touting Trump’s agenda with several enormous signs, including “Build the Wall” and “Trump”. It is quite the understatement to say that Trump’s anti-immigrant fearmongering messaging was inappropriate at an event meant to honor the victims of a self-proclaimed white supremacist, who in an online manifesto said he supports Trump as “a symbol of renewed white identity”, according to The Hill, and who mirrored Trump’s rhetoric, such as saying there is an “invasion” of immigrants, in that manifesto.
The death toll from yesterday’s attacks on Muslim people in New Zealand has just been updated from 49 to 50, according to CNN. This horrific, senseless violence has caused New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to say that New Zealand will be toughening its gun laws in response. Ardern and Trump spoke by telephone after the attacks. Ardern indicated, according to CNN, that Trump “asked what offer of support the United States could provide. My message was sympathy and love for all Muslim communities.” Trump thus far, however, has avoided acknowledging the white supremacist, Islamophobic, anti-immigrant nature of the attacks, however, which is why the pro-Trump float that interrupted the Cleveland vigil was all the more inappropriate. According to CBS affiliate Cleveland 19 News:
A vigil organized by Christians, Jews and Muslims at Cleveland City Hall to remember the 49 killed in Christchurch, New Zealand was interrupted Friday by a President Donald Trump supporter driving a “BUILD THE WALL” float. Mourners looked on in disbelief as the float rolled past the memorial blaring music. The driver, Robert Cortis of Michigan, then made a second pass and played “God Bless America.”…Speakers, including Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, stayed on script and focused on the tragedy instead of the disruption…Mike Bush, New Zealand’s police commissioner, reported that 41 people were killed at Al Noor Mosque and seven at Linwood Mosque, and that another victim had died at Christchurch Hospital. A 28-year-old man, who reportedly wrote a manifesto filled with extremist propaganda prior to the shooting, was arrested and charged with murder. Two others are also in custody…President Donald Trump posted tweets of support toward New Zealand on Friday, but the statements have come under criticism for not mentioning Muslims.
Cleveland 19 News also posted this image of the enormous float with a link to their story, writing, “Mourners looked on in disbelief as Trump supporters blared music and drove a ‘build the wall’ float past a New Zealand vigil being held at Cleveland City Hall on Friday”:
Mourners looked on in disbelief as Trump supporters blared music and drove a "build the wall" float past a New Zealand vigil being held at Cleveland City Hall on Friday. https://t.co/XUxpxbEvlI
— Cleveland 19 News (@cleveland19news) March 15, 2019
This garish, pro-Trump float and accompanying loud music was of course a completely inappropriate interruption to a solemn vigil meant to show respect to the victims of this horrific crime and meant to unite people of all faiths in condemning this act of white supremacist, Islamophobic, anti-immigrant violence. Yet somehow the Trump supporter driving it didn’t fathom how wrong that was.