Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump met with some leaders of the African-American community in North Philadelphia on Friday afternoon, with protesters demonstrating outside.
The round table meeting with 14 African-American business, civic and religious leaders happened around 2 p.m. inside The View at 800 N. Broad Street, a reception hall affiliated with Greater Exodus Baptist Church.
Calvin Tucker, a GOP delegate and member of the Pennsylvania Republican Party, was scheduled to introduce the candidate. At the end of the meeting, he thanked Trump "for being brave enough to come" to North Philadelphia.
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Renee Amoore, a local business leader, said Trump has support in the community, despite polls showing otherwise. "Pennsylvania has your back, and Philly in particular," she said, and thanked him for "coming to the 'hood."
Trump's visit is a move to reverse cavernously unpopular support among minorities, including the black community.
Trump's base has long been white men, but he's recently talked about making the GOP the 'home of the African-American voter." At his rallies, he often asks of black communities "what the hell do you have to lose" by voting for him.
A recent NBC News/Survey Monkey poll found just 8 percent of African Americans would vote for Trump. His opponent, Hillary Clinton, has support of 87 percent of the black community, according to the survey.
A Franklin and Marshall poll of Pennsylvania voters released Thursday listed non-white support for Trump at 25 percent, though it didn't specifically break out support by race.
Outside the venue, about 50 protesters lined up on Broad Street holding signs about slavery and bigotry. Some people dressed up as sections of a brick wall and chain-link fencing.
At one point, a Trump supporter got into a scuffle with one of the protesters over a sign. Philadelphia police officers quickly separated the two men.[[392200431, C]]
"He assaulted me," Jerry Lambert, the lone Trump supporter, angrily shouted to reporters following the tussle. Protester Asa Khalif, a local Black Lives Matter activist, had grabbed Lambert's "Democrat for Trump" sign, starting the confrontation.
Lambert was eventually hit over the head with the sign. The Bucks County resident asked for charges to be filed, but police declined to make an arrest, saying the shoving match didn't warrant legal action.
Lambert came back a short time later holding up a new handwritten poster that read, "I love walls."
Following the roundtable, Trump met with the family of Iofemi Hightower, a young woman who was murdered execution-style along with two others outside a Newark, New Jersey, school in 2007. According to the New York Times, prosecutors said the 20-year-old was brutally slashed with a machete.
The murders were linked to a violent gang and the men accused were in the country illegally, the girl's mother said.
"[They] should've never been here," Shagla Hightower said during the meeting, which was open to the press and included the mother's son and another daughter.
Trump called meeting the family an honor, saying people "have no idea the consequence of [undocumented immigrants] coming in."
"I think we're the only hope," he added. "Hillary Clinton has no clue and doesn't care."
The Clinton campaign fired back, with state director Corey Dukes describing Trump's Philadelphia visit an "offensive gimmick."[[392211501, C]]
"While pushing a hateful, divisive and dangerous agenda, his photo-op in Philadelphia today is nothing more than an offensive gimmick," Dukes said in a statement. "Donald Trump is extremely out of touch with the African-American community."
In a one-on-one interview with NBC10's Lauren Mayk, Trump said Democratic leaders have given the African-American community "nothing."
"All they want is their votes," he said. "They're having a tremendously hard time, and we will make things so good."
The candidate then turned his criticism to the Philadelphia Police Department and mayor Jim Kenney, giving them failing grades for tackling crime.
"The guns on the street, they have to take them away from criminals, they know who they are. You have criminals who are carrying guns and beyond guns...they're carrying bombs," Trump said.
He said the department needs to use stop-and-frisk, a controversial surveillance technique where officers search people without reasonable cause. Opponents say the practice is nothing more than profiling and has led to unjust arrests and shooting deaths.
Moreover, Philadelphia officers already do practice stop-and-frisk and Kenney has gotten flack for failing to do away with the policy, as some say he promised during his run for mayor.
The candidate went on to blast Kenney, saying he's done a "terrible" job running the city, even though Philadelphia has reversed a population decline, saw increased business and residential investment and experienced drops in violent crime in recent years.
Kenney's office responded calling Trump a "nincompoop."