After considerable hype over the weekend about a forthcoming visit from President Donald Trump to East Baltimore, it turns out 45 isn’t actually coming.
Rep. Elijah Cummings’ office confirmed the news, first tweeted by WBAL-TV’s Jayne Miller this morning, to Baltimore Fishbowl. The planned meeting has been relocated to the White House. Cummings’ office first learned of the schedule change this morning.
The Sun reported on Friday night that Trump was planning to come to Baltimore for his first time since taking office, when he went to M&T Bank Stadium to watch the Army-Navy football game and had a brief exchange with Mayor Catherine Pugh.
Over the weekend, more details emerged about the planned visit. The Rev. Donte Hickman, of the Southern Baptist Church in East Baltimore, had invited the president to come tour Broadway East, a neighborhood in need of economic investment, as a way to promote the administration’s Opportunity Zones from the tax reform package signed into law by the president last year. Baltimore has 42 of them.
There was to be a roundtable discussion with local leaders and others over in Broadway East focusing on community revitalization.
While the White House has not responded to a request for comment from Baltimore Fishbowl, it did send a statement to Fox 45 attributing the change in plans to “scheduling.”
“The President will still meet with a number of stakeholders, including several from Baltimore, and provide remarks on the Opportunity Zone and Urban Revitalization Initiative,” the statement said, “highlighting the Administration’s agenda to expand the economic boom to all Americans, especially those in distressed communities–both rural and urban.”
We’ve asked the mayor’s office if Pugh plans to attend the meeting at the White House, set for Wednesday. The mayor told The Sun over the weekend that the White House had notified her office about Trump’s planned visit, but had not given her an agenda.
Trump has drawn protests and considerable criticism from city residents and leaders, including during his campaign, when he falsely claimed the city had been infiltrated by immigrant gangs who he said were causing widespread violence. At an earlier visit in 2015, he harped on the violence that came during the unrest that followed Freddie Gray’s death in police custody, and said: “Baltimore needs jobs, and it needs spirit. It’s got no spirit, none.”
Hundreds marched in protest days after he was elected, and the City Council approved a resolution condemning the president, the first proposal put forth by Councilman Ryan Dorsey after he was sworn in.
Over the weekend, Hickman pushed back against locals’ criticism of the planned meet-up in East Baltimore, arguing the city can use whatever federal investment it can get, regardless of residents’ feelings about the president.
Please read the article so that you may understand the visit and focus on what really matters for our city going forward. Faith based institutions can lead the effort… https://t.co/4BZM48w0I2
— Donte Hickman (@DrDonteLHickman) December 8, 2018
“We cannot wait for the administration we like or elect to take bold faith steps together towards investment opportunities,” he wrote in a Facebook post.
Today, he addressed the broken appointment in another post: “So the White House visitation was cancelled from coming to our city, but not our continued opportunities for transformation beyond conversation. And I praise God that this effort sparked a major buzz, conversations and collaborations around our city to rebuild our communities. Our work continues and we look forward to modeling our city as a demonstration project for a national urban revitalization strategy.”
Trump also visited Baltimore on the campaign trail before he became president, attending a National Guard convention. He spent much of his 20-minute speech attacking Hillary Clinton, who declined to speak at the same gathering, and talking up plans to expand the military.
This story has been updated.
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