As mourners gathered outside Cleveland City Hall to hold vigil for the 49 people killed in a terrorist attack at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, a Trump supporter interrupted by driving a giant “BUILD THE WALL” float past while blaring the song “God Bless America.”
As news station WOIO in Cleveland reported, the vigil had been organized by local Christian, Jewish, and Muslim leaders to pay honor to those killed in Friday’s attack, when a suspect identified as an ardent white supremacist opened fire in a mosque, killing dozens of men, women, and children. As religious leaders addressed the crowd, Michigan man Robert Cortis reportedly drove by in a giant float of Trump paraphernalia and the words “BUILD THE WALL.”
The report noted that Cortis drove by a second time, all while blasting music that drowned out the speakers. But the religious leaders simply ignored the intrusion and continued with their remarks promoting unity, reports noted.
Cortis has started a GoFundMe fundraiser to take the float on tour nationwide. In a rambling statement describing the fundraiser, the Michigan man said he has driven it to “universities and democratic rallies” to show “Trump’s message.”
Cortis said the float is meant to promote “unity.”
“The Trump Unity Bridge is… bridging the gap on issues that will unite all Americans together as one under a Donald Trump Presidency,” Cortis wrote.
But many believe that interrupting a vigil for terrorist attack victims — for an alleged perpetrator who said in a manifesto that he saw Donald Trump as a “symbol for renewed white identity” — was not a way to promote unity. Many have taken to social media to slam Robert Cortis, saying that his “BUILD THE WALL” float was used as a tool of intimidation to those mourning the death of Muslim worshipers.
The terrorist attack has led to an outpouring of support across the world, with many holding vigils and memorial services for the victims. In Christchurch, leaders of different religious communities have come together to offer comfort and support to the victims and their families.
Many world leaders have also expressed support, though Donald Trump has been criticized for failing to condemn the act of hatred and saying in a statement to reporters that he does not believe the rise of white nationalism represents a problem. Trump had been similarly criticized in the wake of the deadly Charlottesville protests when he refused to condemn white supremacists and said there were “fine people” on both sides of the protest.
Mourners looked on in disbelief as the float rolled past the memorial blaring music. The driver then made a second pass and played “God Bless America.” https://t.co/jgaUkRVjMW
— NBC12 WWBT Richmond (@NBC12) March 16, 2019
The “BUILD THE WALL” unity campaign has failed to gain much support. Over the last 27 months, Robert Cortis’ fundraiser has brought in $6,260 toward a goal of $50,000.