Listen to Conference-Goers at Trump Resort Chant for “War!”
This story was co-published with WNYC and ProPublica.
On Sunday, news broke that a video of a fake President Donald Trump and others had been shown during a conference at one of the president’s resorts last week.
The video was swiftly condemned by the White House, the organizers of the pro-Trump conference, as well as Donald Trump Jr. and Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who both spoke at the event.
“Regardless of political party, we should all reject any and all violence in our politics,” Trump Jr. in a statement.
But the now-infamous video was far from the only violent imagery and rhetoric at the conference, which was held at the Trump National Doral Miami. One of the speakers at the conference opening repeatedly urged the crowd to go to “war” in support of Trump.
“We’ve come to declare war!” Pastor Mark Burns told the crowd three times in the Donald J. Trump Grand Ballroom. Conference-goers roared back: “War! War!”
Burns went on: “Do I have anybody who is ready to go to war for Donald J. Trump, for this nation? I can’t hear you? Anybody? Ready to go to war! Because we’re citizens of the greatest country in the world!” The audience cheered.
Hyperpartisan rhetoric, including references to violence, has become a staple of the president’s campaign and his supporters. Trump himself has crowds with nods to violence.
In response to questions, Burns said he does not endorse violence: “Me talking about going to war for Donald Trump is simply a call to action for Republicans to be verbal in support of our conservative values and support for this president.”
Later during the conference, radio host Wayne Allyn Root proudly recalled punching classmates as one of the few white students at his predominantly black high school. A “kid comes up to me and I knock him unconscious. Second kid, a week later, I knocked his entire front row of teeth out. He’s on the floor going ‘where are my teeth, where are my teeth,’” Root told the crowd. “My buddies and I were high-fiving and laughing. Man, it was funny.”
Root then connected the beatings to politics: “To win in politics, which is the roughest game in the world, you’ve got to be a natural-born killer. Not a wallflower. You’ve got to be a pitbull.”
We recorded the comments at the conference as part of our “Trump, Inc.” reporting project and podcast.
Asked for comment, Root said he was simply defending himself. “I don’t recommend violence to anybody, ever,” he said. Asked by whom he was attacked, Root said it was “black students and Italian rough students.”
Burns and Root have both long campaigned in support of Trump. Burns gave the .”)
About a thousand people attended last weekend’s American Priority Festival and Conference. It drew many speakers from the president’s orbit, including Trump Jr., Sanders and former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, as well as former Trump campaign aide and now-felon George Papadopoulos.
In between sessions, men milled about wearing shirts popular with the extreme right-wing group the head of Japan’s socialist party. The back of the shirt shows an image of the killing.
Asked for comment, White House spokesman Steven Groves sent an email asserting his responses were “off the record” (we did not agree to this) and saying we should, “Make sure to include Obama and Biden’s violent rhetoric as well.” He did not reply to a request for examples of Obama or Biden using such rhetoric. (Biden has he would “beat the hell” out of Trump if they were high school classmates, a comment Biden later said he regretted.)
Trump Jr. and Sanders did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
After the video became public, conference organizer Alex Phillips said the media was ignoring the fact that there had been a panel titled “Political Violence.” That panel focused on left-wing protesters known as Antifa.
Phillips did not respond to our request for comment. A spokeswoman for the conference gave the following statement: “The conference was managed in a professional manner with attention to important areas, reputation and relationships. We’ve had amazing media support and attendance and to have any form of violence come from this conference is not only shocking, it’s a sad time for us all.”
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ProPublica’s Thalia Beaty contributed reporting.
'Largest Hip Hop Festival in the World' Is in NYC for First Time This Weekend
Hip hop isn’t a genre known for humility – it’s usually more about being the biggest, the best, the richest. But if you ask co-founder Tariq Cherif if his event is actually the biggest hip hop festival on the planet, he shows admirable restraint — at least for a moment.
"I don’t know what we call it, we just do it," Cherif said. "But I will say that we’ll wrap the year with over one million tickets sold to date. Pretty sure that makes us the biggest."
Rolling Loud began in Miami five years ago. At the time, Cherif and Matt Zingler, the other co-founder, didn’t have grand festival plans. They were just looking for a way to present some of the rappers that they liked.
But it turned out that Rolling Loud was in the right place at the right time. South Florida was home to lots of young artists who posted their rough-and-ready songs on SoundCloud. This DIY style came to be known as SoundCloud rap, and Rolling Loud’s growth happened just as these rappers were gaining mainstream success.
Zingler said as the SoundCloud rappers gained attention, so did Rolling Loud. "Our first event was 7,000 people, a single day, and then we went to a parking lot after that which held 15,000, and we did two days."
Then came shows on the West Coast, Hong Kong, Australia, and now two days and nights at Citi Field. Rolling Loud does for emerging rappers what Lollapalooza did for alternative rock in the 1990's: it brings a large lineup of young musicians to a big audience, which Cherif says makes it different from past hip hop festivals like Rock The Bells, which a decade ago packed its lineups with hip hop stars like Ice Cube, The Roots, and Common.
Headliners this weekend include Wu Tang Clan, the Bronx's Casanova, ASAP Rocky and Lil Uzi Vert.
But Cherif said it's not just a concert, it's an experience. "We’ve got a cereal bar, skate park, basketball court… an ice cream pop up shop," he said. "We’re trying to create our own world for other people to come and enjoy for a few days."
Rolling Loud Comes to New York, but Where are the Women of Hip-Hop?
The international hip-hop music festival is making its New York City debut this weekend with some of the genre's biggest names, like Staten Island's own Wu Tang Clan — but the women of hip-hop are mostly absent.
The festival features rising talent such as Megan Thee Stallion, Rico Nasty, and Saweetie on its lineup. But Kathy Iandoli, music journalist and author of the forthcoming book , said this was a missed opportunity to spotlight the New York women who helped make hip-hop what it is.
"Considering the fact that so many women in hip-hop came from New York City and this is the first time that New York will be experiencing Rolling Loud, it is a little strange they're not here," Iandoli said, mentioning artists such as Queen Latifah, Lil Kim, and Ms. Lauryn Hill as pioneers. She said the omission is especially jarring today, as powerhouses such as Cardi B and Nicki Minaj dominate the charts.
"I think what women are doing now is really just leaving the shadows of male mentors, and really standing on their own in a way that would allow for a greater exposure," Iandoli said.
Iandoli spoke with WNYC's Richard Hake.
Homeless Killing Brings Kendra's Law Back Into Spotlight
The killing of four homeless men in Chinatown over the weekend has sparked a discussion about the two-decades old which allows courts to order treatment for the mentally ill.
It was passed in 1999, after Kendra Webdale was pushed in front of a subway train. The culprit, Andrew Goldstein, was diagnosed with schizophrenia and wasn’t taking medication. The law allowed for people like him to be taken to court and ordered to get treatment.
DJ Jaffe, executive director of , said Randy Santos, the man accused in last weekend's killings, would probably have been a good candidate for Kendra’s Law.
“It would likely have been an effective program for this individual because he suffered from homelessness, arrest and incarceration,” he said.
But the that make someone eligible for involuntary treatment are strict, such as being hospitalized at least twice within the last three years for a mental illness after rejecting treatment.
“This individual had a troubled past, but not something that would have activated the use of Kendra’s Law,” Mayor de Blasio this week on NY1.
The city placed Santos in a shelter for men with mental illness this year, but it remains unclear if he was ever hospitalized. Harvey Rosenthal, executive director of the , said there's good reason the criteria are so strict.
“I would just urge that when there are these tragedies we be very thoughtful … and not do the knee-jerk reaction … that the answer is a forced treatment order with a judge," he said.
Currently, 1,600 people in the city are required to receive treatment under Kendra’s Law and 15 percent of them are homeless.