Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young is urging President Donald Trump to reconsider his planned visit to the Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine on Memorial Day, in light of the stay-at-home order in place in the city to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
“I wish that the President, as our nation’s leader, would set a positive example and not travel during this holiday weekend,” Young said in a statement Thursday.
Young noted that Baltimore residents are required to stay at home except for essential travel, such as going to an essential job or procuring groceries or medicine.
“That President Trump is deciding to pursue non-essential travel sends the wrong message to our residents, many of whom have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 virus,” Young, a Democrat, said in his statement.
Plus, the city is struggling financially due to the twin pressures of increased costs to respond to the pandemic and declining tax collections as residents have lost their jobs and limited their spending, Young said. The city “simply can’t afford to shoulder” the burden of security costs, Young said.
Fort McHenry, the site of the War of 1812 battle that inspired the poem that became the U.S. national anthem, remains closed to the public.
Neither Young nor Republican Gov. Larry Hogan planned to attend Trump’s visit. It’s not clear whether either was explicitly invited.
“We are honored that the president and first lady have chosen to spend Memorial Day at Fort McHenry,” said Mike Ricci, a spokesman for Hogan. “Although Marylanders are encouraged not to gather in large numbers this year — now more than ever — it’s important to reflect on the American heroes who sacrificed their lives for our freedom.”
Hogan plans to spend the day “at home with his family,” celebrating his 64th birthday.
Though Hogan and Trump are both Republicans, the two are rarely aligned. Since the coronavirus pandemic swept across the nation, Hogan has publicly pressed the Trump administration for more support for states and bluntly countered false statements made by the president.
Hogan, who was first elected governor in 2014, did not endorse Trump in 2016 and voted instead for his father for president that year.
Hogan was recently asked about this year’s presidential election and said he would “pass” and “figure that out in November.”
Hogan did not attend Trump’s past visits to the Baltimore region, including a campaign swing in 2016 to a military convention in the city and a diner in Dundalk. Hogan also did not attend Trump’s speech at a retreat for congressional Republicans in Harbor East last year.
Hogan did, however, tour a produce warehouse in Laurel last week with members of the Trump administration and one of the president’s daughters, Ivanka Trump.
Lester Davis, a spokesman for Young, said if the president does still visit Fort McHenry, the Baltimore Police Department will handle the security and logistics involved with Trump’s visit in the same fashion as past presidential visits. The department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.
“The Baltimore Police Department is well-versed in these types of visits and has been handling the stay-at-home orders,” Davis said. “They’ll be more than capable to deal with whatever crowds come.”
The last time Trump came to town, for the congressional event in September, opponents and supporters — but mostly opponents — demonstrated for hours at the Christopher Columbus Piazza. The demonstrations were capped with a barrage of profanity as the president’s motorcade sped by.
Such demonstrations would not be allowed under the city and state pandemic orders.
Officials have allowed some public demonstrations to proceed, however, despite the rules against large gatherings. Participants in the “reopen” movement have held a couple of rallies in protest of stay-at-home orders in Annapolis, Kent Island and Salisbury without incident in recent weeks.
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