CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) – In a 9-2 vote, members of the Charlotte City Council passed a resolution Monday night that condemns racist and xenophobic behavior and speech in response to President Trump’s latest rally in Greenville, NC.
At that rally, Trump supporters were heard chanting “send her back” about a congress woman.
In response to that, Mayor Vi Lyles issued a statement saying the City of Charlotte “will not tolerate” racist and xenophobic hate speech when the RNC comes to the Queen City in 2020. President Trump’s team also denounced the supporter’s behavior.
On Monday, councilman Dr. Justin Harlow introduced a resolution that would serve as a joint statement from the council, if passed. The resolution lists five statements made by President Trump and at the end says the council condemns any kind of racist or xenophobic behavior.
The statement itself says “that Charlotte should always be welcoming and inviting of people of diverse and different ethnicities and background.”
And says it “strongly condemns all of President Donald Trump’s racist and xenophobic tweets and comments.”
“We have to publicly state that we are against racism and xenophobia and unfortunately with the polarization of our country has led us to where we have to be clear,” said councilman Justin Harlow.
“President Trump has normalized dangerous rhetoric,” said at-large councilmember Dimple Ajmera. “This sends a strong message that this kind of behavior won’t be tolerated in our city.”
After the Greenville rally, many community members called on the council to end the city’s contract to host Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention in August 2020. Mayor Lyles statement mentioned the RNC but the council statement did not.
The city attorney explained Monday night that it would likely take a breach of contract for the city to back out of it’s hosting duties for the RNC, and the city could open itself up to lawsuits.
Council members debated the proposed resolution at length Monday before voting. The conversation was tense and emotional.
Democratic members of the council wanted to send a message that racist and xenophobic language would not be allowed in Charlotte.
“From this house, we are telling White House that racism, Xenophobia and hate has no place in our city and will not be tolerated,” said Ajmera Monday night.
Mayor Pro Tem Julie Eiselt, a Democrat, called on Republican leaders to join their colleagues across the aisle and stand behind the resolution.
“I’m asking right now that republican leaders step up with us and denounce this kind of behavior and set the tone and the standard for this city that honors the values that were expressed in tonight’s resolution,” said Eiselt.
Republican council members Ed Driggs and Tariq Bokhari refused to back the resolution Monday night.
Driggs noted that he doesn’t agree with everything President Trump says, but continues to support him because of the policies the president has pursued. He said Trump isn’t the only one to blame for the country’s turmoil.
“I don’t think we have really good behavior on either side, ” said Driggs. “I’m not prepared to lay the blame for the situation that we’re in, that none of us likes, entirely at the feet of one man.”
Bokhari noted that he is opposed to anyone from his party using hate speech, but doesn’t think it’s the city council’s place to condemn certain language.
“I’m not with any stretch trying to say there aren’t people with racism in their heart saying things out there that we’re condemning right now. I’m saying how are we to be the judge of all that and isn’t it going a little bit too far?” questioned Bokhari.
The resolution ultimately passed with Driggs and Bokhari voting against it.
WBTV News reached out to the Meck GOP for comment prior to Monday night’s meeting, but did not receive a statement.
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