CHARLOTTE – On a party line vote on July 22, the Charlotte City Council approved a resolution condemning recent remarks President Donald Trump made against four minority Democratic congresswomen. Charlotte will host the 2020 Republican National Convention next August where it is expected the party will nominate Trump for a second term.
In a series of tweets and public remarks, Trump stated the four congresswomen should “go back to the totally broken and crime infested places where they came from.’’ Trump also made statements that the four hate the United States and that they hold racist views. The four Democratic freshmen members of Congress — Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib, Minn. Rep. Ilhan Omar, N.Y. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Mass. Rep Ayanna Pressley — are all U.S. citizens and all but Omar were born in this country.
On July 17, Trump supporters at a rally in Greenville chanted “send her back,” which was a reference to the Somalian-born Omar.
The resolution stated the city “strongly condemns all of President Donald Trump’s racist and xenophobic social media tweets and comments.’’ The resolution also mentions past controversial statements made by Trump and stated the council opposes all forms of discrimination. The resolution passed on a 9-2 vote with south Charlotte Republicans Tariq Bokhari and Ed Driggs opposing the measure.
The resolution was authored by council member Justin Harlow and supported by the eight other Democrats on the council.
Bokhari said he opposed in the strongest possible way phrases like “send her back,’’ saying such phrases were unconstitutional and tyrannical.
“If you are out there and you think that is something that is OK to say, don’t associate yourself with my Republican Party,” Bokhari said July 22. “Don’t associate yourself with the form of government that we have here and what is OK. So, for those of you looking for someone to call out and say this is not OK, let me be the first to say it, this is not OK. I oppose all forms of hate speech, racism, xenophobia and bigotry.’’
Bokhari was also critical of the council wading into presidential politics when the city has so many other local issues to deal with. Bokhari specifically mentioned the city’s 64 murders so far this year and the lack of progress on several other issues.
“I’m not sure that this what the voters of Charlotte asked us to do when we ran for city council,” Bokhari said. “What bothers me the most of all of this is how we decide to spend our time as a council. Let me give you a couple of examples for the folks who say, well you can do more than one thing at once. We have three direct reports that report to the city council. One of those is the city clerk. Twenty-five percent of the people on this dais (council members) couldn’t take the time to do a 10-minute survey for her annual review. Twenty-five percent. Yet this council decided to spend an entire weekend crafting and negotiating this. We are 50 out of 50 in upward mobility yet we have spent zero time, almost, for the last year focusing around this dais talking about workforce development. We spent hours over the weekend wordsmithing these items.’’
Driggs said he doesn’t endorse Trump’s comments about the four congresswomen and other controversial statements the president has made but he added that the council should stay out of national partisan politics. Driggs also said he continued to support the President.
“I don’t think we have really good behavior on either side and I am not prepared to lay the blame for the situation that we are in that none of us likes entirely at the feet of one man,” Driggs said. “We should all look inside ourselves. Listen to the anger here tonight (July 22), racist, bigot, racist, bigot. We are here to express our hatred of a guy that we consider to be hateful. Look at yourselves. It takes two. It really takes two. I think those of you who know me realize that I’m kind of in the mold of a Reagan Republican. I don’t conduct myself this way, I wouldn’t want to be measured by that behavior. I do believe the President has pursued policies that will benefit our country, which is why I continue to support him in spite of my disagreement with some of his utterances.’’
Earlier in the meeting, several residents urged the council to back out of its deal to host the RNC next August, but city attorney Patrick Baker told the council that the city would probably be sued if it took such action.
In a series of tweets following the adoption of the resolution, the Mecklenburg County Republican Party said that hosting the convention would benefit the city and that the city council should focus its energies on local issues.