Professor Melina Abdullah joined Brooke Baldwin on Wednesday’s CNN Newsroom to discuss President Trump and his response to a Black Lives Matter street painting in New York City outside Trump Tower. Abdullah, who was hailed by Baldwin as one of the original members of BLM, called Trump “the embodiment of white supremacist terrorism” and the “terrorist-in-chief.” Baldwin only informed viewers that Abdullah was just expressing her “freedom of opinion.”
For Baldwin, Abdullah’s presence on her show was required because Trump tweeted, “Maybe our GREAT Police, who have been neutralized and scorned by a mayor who hates & disrespects them, won’t let this symbol of hate be affixed to New York’s greatest street.”
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Abdullah responded to the tweet by declaring, “I think it’s the height of hypocrisy for Donald Trump call anything a symbol of hate. He is the embodiment of hate, and for him to say that affirming the value of black life is somehow hate, again, reminds us of who he is.”
Despite having the whole tweet thread on briefly on screen, Baldwin refused to verbally add context to Trump’s tweets which also included, “This will further antagonize New York’s Finest, who LOVE New York & vividly remember the horrible BLM chant, ‘Pigs In A Blanket, Fry ‘Em Like Bacon.’”
Instead, she toed the CNN line that the tweet was just further evidence of Trump “stoking the racial divide in this country.” Other examples cited by Baldwin were the previously deleted clip of someone yelling “white power” and retweeting ABC’s video of the McCloskey family. Baldwin wondered, “The election is still four months away, so if, and quite frankly when the president does this again, how should the country respond?”
Abdullah’s response was to call Trump “the embodiment of white supremacist terrorism,” blame him for a raise in hate crimes, and that “we need as a country to be willing to point to him and say that he is actually the terrorist-in-chief.”
Instead of pushing back on this incendiary rhetoric, all Baldwin could offer was, “Wow. Those are strong, strong words. Obviously, the White House would dispute that, but you’re allowed your freedom of opinion, and the fact is that the president is highly critical of Black Lives Matter.”
But the segment did not end there. Baldwin wondered if that Trump’s resistance to pulling down monuments proves Black Lives Matter is necessary. Abdullah responded by highlighting the fact that beyond the slogan, BLM’s professional activists can be quite radical, “We recognize that the foundation of this country is really one that has been grounded in racism. It’s based on the stolen land of indigenous people and the stolen labor of black people.”
Here is the relevant transcript:
July 1, 2020
1:28 PM ET
BROOKE BALDWIN: President Trump is lashing out at New York City’s plans to paint “black lives matter” on Fifth Avenue right outside of his Trump Tower. He called the phrase den grading and symbol of hate a suggested New York police should stop the sign from being painted. He also blasted New York Mayor Bill de Blasio for slashing $1 billion from the NYPD’s budget. The mayor responded by calling the phrase “a symbol of truth” and called the president’s disparaging remarks “the definition of racism.” Melina Abdullah is the organizer, is an organizer, one of the original members of Black Lives Matter and a professor of Pan-African studies at Cal State Los Angeles. So Malina, it is truly a pleasure to have you on. Welcome.
MELINA ABDULLAH: Thank you so much for having me.
BALDWIN: So let’s just begin with the words the president used about this BLM street painting. A symbol of hate. Your response to that?
ABDULLAH: I think it’s the height of hypocrisy for Donald Trump call anything a symbol of hate. He is the embodiment of hate, and for him to say that affirming the value of black life is somehow hate, again, reminds us of who he is.
BALDWIN: Hmm. Well, he — as he’s tweeting this, he’s tripling down. If you just look at this week alone, the fact that he shared two videos on Twitter, one of which showing, you know, this guy shouting “White power.” The other showing a couple in St. Louis pointing those guns at protesters and then this NYPD tweet. It is only Wednesday. He is stoking the racial divide in this country. The election is still four months away, so if, and quite frankly when the president does this again, how should the country respond?
ABDULLAH: Well, I think we need remember who he is. That, you know, Donald Trump is the embodiment of white supremacist terrorism. When he is tweeting videos of people throwing up white power and really entrenching himself within the white terrorist movement, right? He’s done that not just only over the last week, but over the last four years, and you see that real manifest in terms of the surge in hate crimes, which are primarily meted out on black people and at the hands of white people. So it’s really important to understand what Donald Trump has done to this country, and where he’s chosen to align himself. For him, again, to call anything hate is really the height of hypocrisy, and, you know, we need as a country to be willing to point to him and say that he is actually the terrorist in chief.
BALDWIN: Wow. Those are strong, strong words. Obviously, the White House would dispute that, but you’re allowed your freedom of opinion, and the fact is that the president is highly critical of Black Lives Matter. You know, also been critical of a notion tearing down our nation’s monuments, Confederate monuments because as he points out they a part of our nation’s history, but isn’t the part of the reason Black Lives Matter was because of our nation’s history? Can you, Melina, speak to that? Take us back to the beginning.
ABDULLAH: Yeah, absolutely. Black Lives Matter is working towards a world that no longer targets black people for demise, right? We recognize that the foundation of this country is really one that has been grounded in racism. It’s based on the stolen land of indigenous people and the stolen labor of black people, and if we’re going to really kind of advance the cause of justice, we need to come to a place of reckoning where we recognize exactly what this country is based on and do all that we can to remedy those wrongs and move forward in a new way.