Jackson: Trump belongs 'with the storm troopers' at Selma
SELMA, Ala. — Famed civil rights activist Rev. Jesse Jackson, here to commemorate the 1965 voting-rights march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge said he believes President Trump would have been on the side of the “storm troopers” who beat protesters in what has gone down in history as “Bloody Sunday.”
Yahoo News asked Jackson what he thought Trump “would have been doing” if he was in Selma at the time.
“Probably with the storm troopers,” Jackson said.
Among the victims that day was John Lewis, now a Democratic congressman from Georgia. Trump was in college in 1965.
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Many Democrats, including some presidential candidates, have labeled Trump a “racist,” a characterization he disputes. His longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, said in his testimony to a House committee Thursday that Trump often made racist remarks about blacks.
Jackson, a 1988 Democratic presidential candidate, was a close ally of Martin Luther King, who helped lead the Selma marches.
Jackson then shared a story about segregationist Alabama Gov. George Wallace, who led the state on “Bloody Sunday” and declined to protect the marchers.
“I asked George Wallace one time — I was having prayer with him after he was very ill, ‘Why did you unleash the horses on the marchers? He said, ‘I did them a favor,’” Jackson recounted.
Jackson asked Wallace, who died in 1998, what he meant.
“He said, ‘Well, if I had not put the troops on him, the mob would have been worse.’ It never occurred to him to turn the troops on the mob, but the marchers,” said Jackson, adding, “That is a mentality. That. is a deeply embedded point of view.”
Jackson was attending the annual “Martin Luther King & Coretta Scott King Unity Breakfast,” which also hosted several current Democratic presidential candidates. He began his comments by saying he was “deeply concerned” that Selma was “being used as a prop.” He describes the city as “the birthplace of modern democracy” and suggested the voting rights protests there led to a “new majority” in the country including minorities and young people.
“But my concern is that while Selma is the birthplace, it’s being used as a prop. Selma is the 9th poorest city in the country. Ms. Boynton, who invited Dr. King here as the host, her house is condemned. Selma is 40 percent poverty,” Jackson said.
He said Selma would be the ideal venue for a “rural reconstruction project.”
“The reason we have a Democratic Congress is because of Selma. There should be some evidence of it,” said Jackson.
The Democrats at the breakfast included 2016 presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, who was being honored at the event, and two current candidates, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker. Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, who has said he will make a decision about whether to enter the 2020 race by the end of this month was also in attendance.
Yahoo News asked Jackson if he felt the current presidential candidates were taking Selma’s needs seriously.
“All of them now speak to … voter enforcement to offset voter suppression, but beyond voting, there must be fruits of democracy. Where are the fruits?” Jackson asked, adding, “There should be some plan. HUD should be here, HHS should be here. There should be some evidence Selma is the birthplace of democracy.”
Asked about voter suppression, a major concern of Democrats in recent elections, Jackson noted the increasing number of minorities in Congress, and said the country has made “tremendous strides” in “spite of the voter suppression.” But he said there are ongoing “schemes to suppress the vote” including gerrymandering that favors white, Republican districts. He brought up the 2016 presidential election.
“Hillary won by three million votes. Trump is the president,” said Jackson, adding, “Schemes to undermine the vote are very real and very alive.”