On Wednesday, President Donald Trump attacked the Black Lives Matter movement, calling the rallying cry a “symbol of hate,” despite never taking such a firm stance against white supremacist symbols and organizing. Of course this comes as no surprise, as Trump has repeatedly made nods to his far right supporters. This time, it's personal for the president, whose comments about Black Lives Matter came in response to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plans to paint the phrase as part of a mural outside Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue. Trump was quick to criticize the decision, along with the city’s plan to cut the New York Police Department’s budget by $1 billion.
"NYC is cutting Police $’s by ONE BILLION DOLLARS, and yet the [mayor] is going to paint a big, expensive, yellow Black Lives Matter sign on Fifth Avenue, denigrating this luxury Avenue," Trump wrote on Twitter. "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. Spend this money fighting crime instead!"
Trump’s comments about the Black liberation protests and symbols appear to be an effort to appeal to the further right, white racist contingent of his base. All week, the president has defended of racist symbols, statues, and even racist housing policy.
On Sunday, Trump retweeted a video of a Florida supporter chanting, “White power.” In the days that followed, the president focused much of his energy on matters surrounding the preservation of statues of racist slave owners and Confederate monuments. "This is a battle to save the Heritage, History, and Greatness of our Country!" he said Tuesday, as the Department of Homeland Security announced the following day that it would form a task force to "protect American monuments, memorials, and statues."
The Trump campaign has ramped up its dog whistles in recent weeks, as well, as the president appears to be using the ongoing unrest to amp up his own base. Last month, his campaign was under fire for using fascist imagery and white nationalist symbols in their Facebook ads.
But the Trump administration’s assault on Black Lives Matter movement is nothing new. In 2017, the FBI announced it would begin targeting “Black Identity Extremists,” classifying movements for Black rights as a “violent threat.”
Trump’s persistent attacks on the ongoing anti-police uprisings could end up costing him the election, as thousands of people nationwide continue to take the streets in a show of collective struggle, solidarity, and power we haven’t seen in years. And the message is clear: The Trump administration and the entire existing political establishment won’t see peace until justice is served.