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Baltimore Residents Call Trump's Tweets A Diversion

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Mary Rose Madden
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This story originally aired on NPR's Weekend All Things Considered

SARAH MCCAMMON, HOST:

We're going to take some time to get reaction to President Trump's tweets about Baltimore. The president called Baltimore, quote, "a disgusting rat and rodent-infested mess," adding, "no human being would want to live there." His tweets targeted Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings and his majority-black district, which spans most of the city. And as Emily Sullivan at member station WYPR reports, the city is not taking insults from their president lying down.

EMILY SULLIVAN, BYLINE: Reactions throughout Baltimore were swift. Many residents condemned Trump and defended their city. City Council president Brandon Scott called Trump's tweets a diversion tactic.

BRANDON SCOTT: The president of the United States, the leader of the free world, who's a person who is in the best position of any human being on the planet to help Baltimorans who need help, instead of doing so, is using his office to beat down an American city.

SULLIVAN: A city with real problems - it's still under a legacy of racist redlining policies that created impoverished black neighborhoods. Baltimore's murder rate is among the highest in the country. It's a place of extreme marginalization says Lawrence Brown, an associate professor at Morgan State University who lives in the district.

LAWRENCE BROWN: We're living in a Category 5 hyper-segregated city that's deeply, deeply splitting who has resources in this city and who doesn't.

SULLIVAN: But, Brown says, Trump isn't criticizing segregation.

BROWN: What he's really trying to do is divert attention away from the border camps. He's trying to divert attention away from the wall that he wants to build on the border.

SULLIVAN: Other Baltimoreans ask, what's criticism without a plan to make things better? Here's D. Watkins, the editor at large at Salon and a lifelong Baltimore resident.

D WATKINS: The best form of critique is creation. If you're not trying to solve problems, if you're not trying to make things better, then shut up because your commentary's not valid. You don't walk these streets. You're not from here.

SULLIVAN: Representative Cummings says he's fighting for the people who do walk those streets. He also tweeted that it's his constitutional duty to conduct oversight of the executive branch.

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Emily Sullivan is a city hall reporter at WYPR, where she covers all things Baltimore politics. She joined WYPR after reporting for NPR’s national airwaves. There, she was a reporter for NPR’s news desk, business desk and presidential conflicts of interest team. Sullivan won a national Edward R. Murrow Award for an investigation into a Trump golf course's finances alongside members of the Embedded team. She has also won awards from the Chesapeake Associated Press Broadcasters Association for her use of sound and feature stories. She has provided news analysis on 1A, The Takeaway, Here & Now and All Things Considered.
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