Donald Trump’s efforts to provide comfort and support to victims of two mass shooting has been engulfed by controversy, as protesters emotionally claimed his rhetoric was responsible for spreading bigotry and the president sent angry tweets while flying between the two cities on Air Force One.
Five days after a gun entered a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, and opened fire killing 29 people, for the violence to be echoed within hours by the killing of nine people in Dayton, Ohio, Mr Trump visited both cities in what for US presidents has been the role of consoler-in-chief.
In El Paso, with many angry about racist language they believe has emboldened people such as the young white man who allegedly drove ten hours to deliberately target a store with a large number of hispanics, critics held a protest to denounce his action.
On a street corner in the city centre, as close to the El Paso Children’s hospital that protesters and the media were allowed, a woman called Margie Ugarte, 41, a paralegal, held up a sign that read “Make racism wrong again”, a riff on Mr Trump’s Make America Great Again slogan.
“The president should stay away,” she said. “It’s not just that he’s anti-immigrant, he’s anti anyone who is not the same.”
When his motorcade made its way to the Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, to meet survivors, around a hundred people were gathered blocks away in a grassy field where they held signs reading “Dump Trump” and “Do Something!”. Pro-Trump flags were also seen in the city, boosting the embattled president.
Meanwhile, in El Paso, Texas, where 22 people were gunned down on Saturday afternoon at a Walmart by a killer who had written an anti-immigrant screed before the attack, a protest featured calls for tolerance and acceptance in advance of the arrival of a president known for his rhetorical assaults on minorities in the country.