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At a Trump Rally in the Bronx, Chants of ‘Build the Wall’

Miles from the rather gloomy Manhattan courtroom where he has spent much of the past five weeks as a criminal defendant, former President Donald J. Trump stood in a Bronx park on Thursday, surveyed the crowd and acknowledged he was concerned about how he’ might be received at his first rally in New York state in eight years, and his first ever in the borough.

Ahead of him was a more diverse crowd than is typical at his rallies, with many black and Hispanic voters sporting bright red “Make America Great Again” hats and other Trump-themed clothing usually rare in the city of New York in a deep blue. More and more people stood outside, waiting to get through security.

“I woke up, I was like, ‘I wonder if it’s going to be hostile or friendly?’” Mr. Trump said. “It was more than friendly. It was a celebration of love.

As is often the case in Mr. Trump’s speeches, the truth was a little more complex. As he spoke, more than 100 protesters demonstrated outside the fenced-off area of ​​Crotona Park where he held the rally. A wave of elected officials denounced his visit to the city. And his insistence that he would win New York in November – although perhaps not as laughable as it might once have seemed, judging by at least one recent poll – conveniently ignored the thumps that he suffered in the state during the 2016 and 2020 elections.

But as heated debates unfolded outside his rally, Mr. Trump, who sometimes turned to lengthy New York-centric reminiscences that eluded his supporters, seemed to relish the opportunity to appear in his hometown, d to attract media attention and to know that New Yorkers would hear what he had to say, like it or not, one way or another.

Throughout the rally, Mr. Trump, one of New York’s most famous native sons, who officially called Florida home in 2019, took the opportunity to demonstrate his support for the city he left behind behind him – and whom he swore to always love, even as he decried it as descending into chaos.

“New York was the place you came to be successful. To be successful, you had to be in New York,” he said. “But unfortunately it is now a city in decline.”

His remarks largely followed familiar patterns as he attacked the Biden administration and made explicit overtures to Black and Latino voters. He lamented the influx of migrants across the southern border and criticized President Biden’s economic policies because they disproportionately harm people of color, whose Democratic support he wants.

“African-Americans are being massacred. Hispanic Americans are being massacred,” he said.

He also insisted that the influx of migrants, which sparked a crisis in New York, was disproportionately harming “our black population and our Hispanic population, who are losing their jobs, losing their housing, losing everything they have.” ‘they can lose’.

Mr Trump’s speeches against those crossing the border illegally and his promise to carry out the “largest deportation operation” in US history – two staples of his campaign rallies – were met with cheers .

Unprompted, many in the crowd responded by chanting “Build the wall,” a reference to Mr. Trump’s efforts during his presidency to build a wall on the southern border, and then, later, “Send it back.” THE “.

They don’t seem to object to his general claim, which has no evidence, that those crossing the border were mentally ill criminals planning an invasion of the United States.

“They want to get us from the inside,” Mr. Trump said. “I think they’re building an army.”

The welcome response to such anti-immigrant messages has been particularly striking in New York, a sanctuary city that has built a reputation over decades as a beacon for immigrants.

Some in the crowd said they were immigrants, but were quick to clarify that they had crossed the border legally and that they disapproved of those who had not.

“I understand that this country is made up of immigrants,” said Indiana Mitchell, 47, who said he is originally from the Dominican Republic. “But I came to this country the right way. I didn’t enter through the courtyard, I entered through the front door.

Mr. Trump often brings up how the migrant crisis is playing out in New York at rallies in battleground states, where it remains a more abstract idea for many of his supporters.

But attendees at his rally in the Bronx said they have seen firsthand the impact on their neighborhoods of the influx of migrants, which has strained the municipal budget as the city provides housing and other social services.

Rafael Brito, a Queens resident who said he came to the United States from the Dominican Republic, said he believes the migrant crisis has exacerbated crime and made it harder for his neighbors to get the services they need. needed.

“The whole neighborhood has changed,” Mr. Brito, 51, said.

Outside the rally, protesters said they felt compelled to come to the park to make their voices heard against Mr. Trump’s views.

Melvin Howard, 65, a machinist who lives near Crotona Park, said he wanted to make clear his disapproval of the rally in his neighborhood and the opinions of the people who attended.

“These people should not be here in the South Bronx,” he said, pointing to the large number of whites in the crowd in a borough where the white population makes up less than 10 percent. “They are here to steal our black votes. I don’t recognize any of them.

As protesters demonstrated, the atmosphere became momentarily charged, with Trump supporters and anti-Trump protesters shouting obscenities at each other across the street. New York police began separating the two camps, lining the streets with metal barricades.

The Bronx remains one of the most Democratic counties in the country. President Biden won the district by 68% in 2020, although Mr. Trump improved his performance in 2016, when he lost by 79 percentage points.

But Mr. Trump has brushed aside those past results. “Don’t assume it doesn’t matter just because you live in a blue city,” he said. “You live in a blue city, but it turns red very, very quickly. »

Mr. Trump’s outing in the city where he has spent most of his life appeared to provoke more reflection than is characteristic of his stump speeches in battleground states.

He spent a lot of time celebrating his history with New York, recounting his renovation of a skating rink in Central Park and his management of a public golf course in the Bronx.

And he peppered his speech with life lessons.

He expressed at length his admiration for his father, a real estate developer who Mr. Trump said loved to work and did so tirelessly, including on Sundays, and for the homebuilder William Levitt, who built Levittowns in Long Island and in other states. But Mr. Trump observed that Mr. Levitt left his company too soon and was unable to return as he wanted years later.

The reason, according to Mr. Trump, was that he had wasted momentum.

“We must always keep moving forward,” Mr. Trump said. “And when it’s your time, you gotta know it’s your time.”

Jeffery C. Mays reports contributed.

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jack colman

With a penchant for words, jack began writing at an early age. As editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper, he honed his skills telling impactful stories. Smith went on to study journalism at Columbia University, where he graduated top of his class. After interning at the New York Times, jack landed a role as a news writer. Over the past decade, he has covered major events like presidential elections and natural disasters. His ability to craft compelling narratives that capture the human experience has earned him acclaim. Though writing is his passion, jack also enjoys hiking, cooking and reading historical fiction in his free time. With an eye for detail and knack for storytelling, he continues making his mark at the forefront of journalism.
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