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Donald Trump holds major campaign rally in the South Bronx. Opponents engage in large protest.

Donald Trump holds first major rally in New York City since 2016
Donald Trump holds first major rally in New York City since 2016 03:11

NEW YORK -- Former President Donald Trump held a major campaign rally Thursday in the South Bronx, his first in New York City since 2016.

Trump took the stage in Crotona Park in front of several thousand people at around 6:30 p.m. In the hours leading up to his appearance, just about every kind of souvenir was for sale, and security was extremely tight.

National polls show Trump making gains amongst Black and Latino voters, and he made his pitch to those communities Thursday. His talking points included the economy, crime and immigration.

"We're going to bring safety back to our streets. We're going to bring success back to our schools. We're going to bring prosperity back to every neighborhood in every borough of the greatest city in our land. We're going to reduce taxes. We're going to bring businesses and big taxpayers back to New York," Trump said.

"The biggest negative impact is against our Black population and against our Hispanic population who are losing their jobs, losing their housing, losing everything they can lose," Trump added.

Some supporters from the South Bronx said Trump is making a strong appeal.

"My main issues are border, cost of living. I've been working 28 years and I can't afford to buy a house," said Andrea Pabarue, of the South Bronx.

"We need to do much better in the Bronx and the U.S. and North America," Yokasta Quinones added.

Protesters and some elected officials sound off

While the former president had many supporters on hand, not everyone gave him a warm welcome. A large crowd gathered outside the park for an anti-Trump rally. The poster for that event read, "Trump isn't welcome in the Bronx."

One local resident said Trump did "absolutely nothing" for the Bronx as president, but said if he does win the White House again, she would like to see him, "help build the Bronx up, get people some jobs, get some housing. We got so many homeless people. It's ridiculous."

"He's not for us. He's not for health care workers. He doesn't support us, and we want Biden, because he supports us," health care worker Sheike Ward said.

In a statement, Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson said Trump's "anti-immigrant, anti-choice, and anti-working-class messaging doesn't resonate with Bronxites."

"Today, we unite to send a clear message to Donald Trump that he is not welcome in the Bronx, and we will deliver that message loud enough for him to hear it from Manhattan Criminal Court," her statement continued.

Trump's visit landed him in the congressional district of Rep. Ritchie Torres, who said the former president should take his pitch elsewhere.

"We are gonna send a message and we are gonna deliver a message that is long overdue: Donald Trump we are ending your political career. You are fired," Torres said.

"I think during Donald Trump's presidency, we saw a lot of failures that impacted people in the South Bronx really terribly, COVID deaths among them. Donald Trump, at every turn, has instituted tax cuts that hurt our community, cut programs vital to the success of our community," Assembly member Amanda Septimo added.  

In a statement, President Joe Biden said Trump is a person, "who stepped into political life by taking the racist birther movement mainstream, who consistently demonizes and dehumanizes Black and Latino communities, has one true interest: regaining power so he can enact revenge on his enemies."

Trump gained voters in NYC in 2020

Trump's performance in New York City in the 2020 election was significantly better than in 2016. He received tens of thousands more votes citywide, with some of his greatest gains coming from the South Bronx, the Wall Street Journal reported. While Biden still won the city by a wide margin -- 68 points -- Trump showed significant gains in three State Assembly districts in the South Bronx -- more than anywhere else in the city, the Journal reported.

The last Republican to win New York state was Ronald Reagan in 1984, with 54% of the vote. 

Attendees talk about the issues important to them

Among the thousands who attended the rally were people who have specific issues they would like to see addressed by the next president.

"Immigration, inflation, the economy. This is New York City so, obviously, we have a huge crime rate that needs to be brought down," Brian Armstrong said.

Angie Amen spoke about immigration.

"I came here legally. I get really, really, really upset when I see that people that cross the border freely. They can't give them housing, give them free money, give them iPhone 15. I don't have iPhone 15. I can afford it," Amen said.

Trump's previous campaign stops in NYC 

Thursday's event was not the former president's first campaign stop in New York City. Last month, he visited a bodega in Upper Manhattan and then a construction site in Midtown

At his first appearance, Trump met with the Bodegas Association at a store on West 139th Street, where then-clerk Jose Alba was charged in a deadly 2022 stabbing that was later ruled self defense.

A week later, he shook hands and posed for photos with construction workers outside the JP Morgan Chase Building at East 48th Street and Park Avenue.

Trump has been in the city for his ongoing "hush money" trial, which is expected to wrap up closing arguments Tuesday. 

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