Concerns are being raised over reports that allies of U.S. President Donald Trump have started holding events in black communities where they heap praises on the president while handing out cash to attendees.
It has emerged that last month, a nonprofit organization run by Darrell Scott, one of President Trump’s closest and most prominent black supporters, organized an event in Cleveland where it promoted policies of the president like the criminal justice reform while giving out cash to those present.
The group, known as the Urban Revitalization Coalition, doled out thousands of dollars of cash stuffed in envelopes for its ‘Christmas Extravaganza’ event that featured a $25,000 giveaway and an appearance by Ja’Ron Smith, a deputy assistant to the president, reports Politico.
The Coalition’s CEO, Scott, said that most gifts were between $300 and $500 and that the group “mandates that anyone who receives over $600 fills out a W-9 form in order to ensure compliance with tax law.”
He further admitted that the event made remarks about some of the policies of the Trump administration that affected black people, but he was quick to add that his organization was nonpartisan and that the event had not been held by the Trump campaign.
“We talked about the country,” Scott was quoted by The New York Times. “We said there are a number of things that are benefiting black America right now. For instance, criminal justice reform.”
Only 8% of black voters backed Trump in the 2016 election, and a national Washington Post-Ipsos poll released recently shows a similar picture. Eight out of 10 black voters think Trump is a racist, according to the poll.
As Trump prepares for his reelection campaign, the president has intensified his efforts to recruit black voters. Its Black Voices for Trump initiative started last November has Scott as its co-chair.
Even though Trump’s campaign has said that it “has no knowledge of or affiliation” with the activities of Scott’s Coalition, the group’s recent cash giveaway has been heavily criticized.
Rashad Robinson, the president of Color of Change, a racial justice organization, said black voters deserved more than “last-minute handouts.”
“They deserve real economic development,” he told The New York Times. “If Donald Trump is really willing to have clear conversations about the kind of investments in these communities that aren’t about fast checks but about helping families, then that’s a different conversation. But he hasn’t been interested in any of that.”
Adrianne Shropshire, the executive director of BlackPAC, a progressive group, believed that the move “just demonstrates the utter disrespect that Trump and his allies have for black voters. The cynical use of the Christmas holiday — when people really do want money to buy gifts for their children — is so offensive.”
“We gave away turkeys at Thanksgiving, we gave away a great amount of toys around Christmas,” Scott was quoted by The New York Times. “We couldn’t think of a better thing to do with Christmas than to help people with cash.”
Meanwhile, Politico reports that a second giveaway expected to be held this month in Virginia has been postponed, but more are said to be in the works.