President Trump to deliver keynote address at justice forum; visit draws mixed reactions


COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA)- Several streets will be closed in downtown Columbia to prepare for President Donald Trump’s arrival in the capital city. The president is the keynote speaker for a large bipartisan criminal justice forum.

The marquee at Benedict College flashes with the promotion for the “2019 Second Step Presidential Justice Forum.” Several 2020 Democratic presidential candidates will be in attendance on Saturday and Sunday for the event.

President Trump will speak on Friday. The forum focuses on incarceration, education and employment, primarily in African American communities.

“From the First Step Act, to creating an economy that benefits everyone. Currently, we have the lowest African American unemployment rate ever,” said Joe Jackson, a RNC spokesman, elaborating on the president’s record in criminal justice reform.

This is the president’s first visit to Benedict College. But the appearance is already drawing criticism. One presidential candidate has already organized organized a march opposing the president’s visit.

Jonathan Metcalf with the Tom Steyer 2020 campaign explained the purpose of Friday’s march and protest. “We are not pleased to have him here or use a historically black college when when we know that he has caused division and hatred in this country.”

But the Republican party and Trump 2020 campaign disagrees. The groups say the president’s visit to the campus is crucial.

“He understands the vital role that these historic black colleges play in preparing people not only those coming out of our criminal justice system but those who are looking to make their next step in education,” added Marc Lotter, a communications director with President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign.

Classes at Benedict College will be canceled for Friday in preparation of the visit. This is the second criminal justice reform like this held in Columbia. The first was held at Allen University.

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