Bannon rallies hundreds in Detroit for Trump’s border wall

Steve Bannon speaks at Cobo, March 14, 2019 | Ken Coleman

Former President Donald Trump senior adviser Steve Bannon was serving up plenty of red meat to Republicans on immigration in Detroit Thursday night.

Bannon, a popular figure on the so-called alt-right, spoke to a crowd of 500 for the “We Build the Wall” town hall at Cobo Center. He referred to the U.S. Senate vote Thursday afternoon in which the GOP-led body rejected Trump’s emergency declaration to gain funding for his wall with Mexico.

“You have to keep in mind what happened today in Washington — 12 Republicans humiliated President Trump,” Bannon said. “They gave Trump the finger today. But that’s not going to stop us. We’re going to start building that wall next month.”

Bannon had his own very public split with Trump, who fired him from his White House gig. Nonetheless, Bannon continued to defend the president when he spoke at the Macomb County GOP dinner in 2017. He also propped up then-Alabama GOP U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore, even after allegations surfaced about Moore sexually abusing teenage girls, which caused Trump to cut bait.

David Clarke at Cobo, March 14, 2019 | Ken Coleman

In Detroit, Bannon joined Trump allies Kris Kobach, the former Kansas secretary of state who lost his 2018 gubernatorial bid, and David Clarke, the former Milwaukee County sheriff who withdrew his Trump administration homeland security post nomination after a plagiarism scandal broke.

“America’s lack of border security has an impact on more than just the states on the southern border,” said Brian Kolfage, a U.S. Air Force veteran, Iraq War triple amputee and We Build the Wall founder and president. “… Our event is an opportunity for people to hear directly from our nation’s most knowledgeable U.S. southern border. We’re building to accomplish what our elected politicians have failed to do.”

Build the Wall event at Cobo, March 14, 2019 | Ken Coleman

Meanwhile, about 50 protestors hoisted signs and chanted against the event sponsors and attendees outside the Cobo Center. Sheryl Herrmann was one of them.

“I believe that our diversity is our strength and that we cannot allow individuals to come into our community and divide us,” Herrmann said. “Our immigrants are welcomed here. Many of us come from diverse communities and we want to keep it that way.”

The Michigan Democratic Party (MDP) also slammed the event.

Protest outside Cobo, March 14, 2019 | Ken Coleman

“While Republican extremists, led by Steven Bannon and anti-voting rights crusader Kris Kobach, host a divisive rally in Detroit to build a wall 2,000 miles away, Democrats across town in Warren are coming together to discuss the real issues affecting Michigan’s working people and families,” said MDP chair Lavora Barnes.

“The contrast between the two agendas could not be any clearer — Democrats believe in uniting to solve the problems facing all Michiganders, while far-right Republicans continue their efforts to divide us in order to distract from the real issues we face, like skyrocketing health care costs, the opioid epidemic, and Donald Trump’s failed, corrupt presidency.”

Advance Editor Susan J. Demas contributed to this story.

Ken Coleman
Ken Coleman covers Southeast Michigan, economic justice and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader. His work has been cited by the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, History Channel and CNN. Additionally, he was an essayist for the award-winning book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies. Ken has served as a spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Previously to joining the Advance, he worked for the Detroit Federation of Teachers as a communications specialist. He is a Historical Society of Michigan trustee and a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.


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