Baltimore mayor Jack Young defends Elijah Cummings
WASHINGTON – Baltimore Mayor Bernard “Jack” Young lit into President Donald Trump on Monday, describing his tweets against Rep. Elijah Cummings as “racist” and arguing the federal government should do far more to help the city.
“We do have our problems, but we are no different than any other American city,” Young, a Democrat, told USA TODAY in an interview. “I just think the president should focus more on America as a place where we can live as one nation, not divided by race.”
Trump blasted Cummings, a Democrat, and the city he represents in a tweet storm that began Saturday and continued throughout the weekend. The president described the city as a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess ” where “no human being would want to live.” The tweet has drawn heavy backlash from the majority African American city.
Young said Baltimoreans have “mixed feelings” about the president’s criticism, and said some city residents may agree with it. But Young said the federal government – through deep cuts to housing, environmental and infrastructure programs – had contributed to challenges faced in Baltimore and other major cities.
“If he really wants to help cities like Baltimore, he has to direct federal resources here to help us with infrastructure, instead of just bashing the City of Baltimore,” Young said.
Asked if he thought Trump’s tweets were racist, Young said he did, noting that the president has recently singled out high-profile people of color for criticism.
Young, a longtime leader on the City Council who became mayor this year, also criticized Jared Kushner. The president’s son-in-law and top White House adviser have come under fire for rental practices at several Baltimore-area apartment complexes owned by his company, The Baltimore Sun has reported.
“He should help his son-in-law,” Young said.
Trump continued his attack for a third day on Monday, noting that Sen. Bernie Sanders had compared some parts of the city to a “third world country” during a campaign stop there in 2015. Those remarks came after Sanders had taken a walking tour through West Baltimore.
The president also engaged in a fierce Twitter battle Monday with the Rev. Al Sharpton as the civil rights activist headed to Baltimore to denounce the president’s attacks.
“The fact is, Baltimore can be brought back, maybe,” Trump wrote on Monday. “When the leaders of Baltimore want to see the City rise again, I am in a very beautiful oval shaped office waiting for your call!”
Contributing: William Cummings