Trump says Americans need to fight bigotry and hatred “in all of its ugly forms” during a visit to National Museum of African-American History.
WASHINGTON, D.C., UNITED STATES (FEBRUARY 21, 2017) (RESTRICTED POOL) – U.S. President Donald Trump denounced anti-Semitism in the United States on Tuesday (February 21) in his most forceful remarks to date about a spate of threats to Jewish community centers around the country.
Several Jewish community centers were evacuated for a time on Monday after receiving bomb threats, the JCC Association of North America organization said. Vandals toppled the headstones of about 170 graves at the Chesed Shel Emeth Society cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri, according to news reports.
“The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centers are horrible and are painful and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil,” Trump told reporters. He was speaking at the end of a tour of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, where he also spoke out against racism.
“Today and every day of my presidency, I pledge to do everything I can to continue that promise of freedom for African-Americans and for every American” adding “This tour is a meaningful reminder of why we have to fight bigotry intolerance and hatred in all of its very ugly forms,” Trump said.
The comments marked a changed in tone from Trump, who had declined to condemn explicitly the threats against Jews when asked last week, and had reacted at times with anger to reporters’ questions on the topic, taking the questions as though they were accusing him personally of having anti-Semitic views.
On Monday, bomb threats were called in to 11 Jewish community centers, including those in the Houston, Chicago and Milwaukee areas, according to David Posner, a director at JCC Association of North America. They were found to be hoaxes.
No arrests were made and no one was injured. The FBI has previously said it is investigating recent threats as “possible civil rights violations.”
Monday’s incidents follow three waves of bomb threats so far this year. In all, 69 incidents at 54 Jewish community centers in 27 states and one Canadian province have been reported, according to the JCC Association of North America.
During Trump’s tour of the museum he walked through an exhibit on the slave trade in the U.S. that showed shackles as well as items that were recovered from a slave ship that went down off the coast of South Africa.
Museum Director Lonnie Bunch explained an exhibit featuring President Thomas Jefferson and the slaves he owned. Trump later viewed an exhibit on Dr. Ben Carson a noted neurosurgeon and presidential candidate who Trump has tapped to become the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.