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Trump tries to embrace Black Lives Matter, a group he previously said ‘hates our country’

Former president Donald Trump on Wednesday touted the support he has received from a Black Lives Matter activist, inaccurately claiming that he’s receiving broader support from the group — which he has denounced and blamed for violence for years.

Trump wrote Wednesday on Truth Social, his social media platform, that he spoke with Mark Fisher — who has billed himself as the co-founder of Black Lives Matter Rhode Island — and was “very honored to have his and BLM’s support.” He also repeated his frequent assertion that he has “done more for Black people than any other President.”

Fisher, a former Democrat who founded Maryland-based BLM Inc., recently expressed his support for Trump, telling Fox News, “We’re not stupid. … We understand when someone’s for us and when someone is not, and it’s obvious that the Democratic Party is not for us.”

BLM Inc. states on its website that it is “not affiliated with any other Black Lives Matter Movement” and it is “not politically focused or driven nor do we align or affiliate with any particular political party or politics.”

The founder of Black Lives Matter Rhode Island, Gary Dantzler, told WPRI he was “disgusted” by Fisher’s remarks and that Fisher “does not represent Black Lives Matter.” He said in a separate interview with the Providence Journal that Fisher was “absolutely not” a co-founder of Black Lives Matter Rhode Island but that he did work as an advocate for the group for a matter of months.

Black Lives Matter RI PAC — an organization separate from Black Lives Matter Rhode Island — released a joint statement with the national Black Lives Matter organization, despite there being no affiliation between them, that sought to make clear that Fisher was not affiliated with their groups, calling the endorsement of Trump “a publicity stunt” and Fisher “an imposter.”

“Anyone can start an organization and add the words Black Lives Matter to it in an attempt to muddy the waters of our movement, as Mark Fisher did,” the groups said in the joint statement. “His organization is illegitimate and not in any way connected to the righteous BLM community fighting to protect and save Black lives. Continuing to call Mark Fisher a Black Lives Matter leader is disingenuous and inappropriate.”

The groups went on to call Trump “no friend to Black people seeking to live in a just society.”

For years, Trump has been extremely critical of Black Lives Matter — a global organization and movement whose mission is “to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes.”

In the months following the 2020 death of George Floyd and subsequent demonstrations across the United States — including protests in front of the White House — Trump called Black Lives Matter a “symbol of hate” and argued that the organization was spreading violence.

“Many of those who are spreading violence in our cities are supporters of an organization called the Black Lives Matter or BLM. It’s really hurting the Black community,” Trump said in a September 2020 speech focused on Black economic empowerment. “This is an unusual name for an organization whose ideology and tactics are right now destroying many Black lives.”

Trump also remained critical of the group after leaving office and launching his 2024 presidential campaign.

In June 2022, he called on the Biden administration to dismantle Black Lives Matter, grouping it together with organizations that he said were “turning our communities into war zones.” That November, he told a crowd that “BLM and antifa burn down cities, kill people, and nothing happens to them.” Earlier this year, during a speech in New Hampshire, he said antifa and Black Lives Matter “hate our country.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who is vying against Trump for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, seized the opportunity to attack the former president for the endorsement. He tweeted on Wednesday that “BLM praising Donald Trump — and Trump celebrating it — makes perfect sense” and sought to contrast his record on dealing with the protests with Trump’s.

“As President, I will not sit idly by and watch rioters torch American cities.”

Polls this fall show growing support for Trump in 2024 among Hispanic and Black voters, with multiple polls showing him performing historically well in head-to-head matchups against President Biden.

Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung sought to cast Fisher’s endorsement as part of a broader movement, saying in a statement, “Americans are getting behind President Trump and his movement because they know this country can’t survive another four years of a disastrous Biden presidency that has divided the entire nation.”

Black Lives Matter isn’t the only entity Trump has recently gone from criticizing to embracing.

In his 2020 reelection campaign, Trump called Univision, the nation’s most influential Spanish-language network, “a leftist propaganda machine and a mouthpiece of the Democrat Party.” Earlier this month, however, he hosted executives of the network — under new corporate ownership — at his Mar-a-Lago estate during a sit-down interview with the network.

The interview began with a question about how well he is doing among Latino voters and, early on in the sit-down, he praised the owners of the network.

Josh Dawsey and Michael Scherer contributed to this report.

This post appeared first on The Washington Post

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