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Was Fred Trump (Donald’s Father) in the Ku Klux Klan?

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ku klux klanCOMMENT: Earlier this year, a controversy emerged when old newspaper articles about arrests at a 1927 Klan rally in Queens (New York City) mentioned a “Fred Trump” as among the “berobed marchers” arrested at the event.

Although the identification of Trump’s father as one of the Klan participants has not been definitively established, The Donald lied when confronted with the address of the arrested Fred Trump. 

” . . . . asked if his father had lived at 175-24 Devonshire Road—the address listed for the Fred Trump arrested at the 1927 Klan rally—Donald dismissed the claim as “totally false.”

“We lived on Wareham,” he told Horowitz. “The Devonshire—I know there is a road ‘Devonshire,’ but I don’t think my father ever lived on Devonshire.” Trump went on to deny everything else in the Times’ account of the 1927 rally: “It shouldn’t be written because it never happened, number one. And number two, there was nobody charged.”

Biographical records confirm that the Trump family did live on Wareham Place in Queens in the 1940s, when Donald was a kid. But according to at least one archived newspaper clip, Fred Trump also lived at 175-24 Devonshire Road: A wedding announcement in the January 22, 1936 issue of the Long Island Daily Press, places Fred Trump at that address, and refers to his wife as “Mary MacLeod,” which is Donald Trump’s mother’s maiden name. . . .”

It seems altogether probable that The Donald’s father was the “Fred Trump” arrested at the rally for “failing to disperse,” but Fred Trump’s specific activities at the Klan Rally have not been established.

In the context of assessing the deep politics surrounding Trump, the possibility of Klan participation by his father is interesting and possibly relevant. In Under Cover (available for download for free on this website), the extensive networking between dominant elements of the KKK and various Fifth Column organizations in this country is covered at length.

One of those Fifth Column organizations is America First, which received funding from Nazi Germany. Trump has appropriated that name.

Also of interest in the context of the “Fred Trump” arrested at the Klan Rally is the fact that David Duke has been an enthusiastic supporter of Trump, who was altogether hesitant about disavowing Duke’s support.

All the Evidence We Could Find About Fred Trump’s Alleged Involvement with the KKK” by Mike Pearl; Vice News; 3/9/2016.

Late last month, in an interview with Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, CNN host Jake Tapper asked the candidate whether he would disavow an endorsement from longtime Ku Klux Klan leader and white nationalist celebrity David Duke. Trump declined. “I don’t know anything about David Duke,” he said. Moments later, he added, “I know nothing about white supremacists.”

Trump has since walked back his comments, blaming his hesitance to condemn the Klan on a “bad earpiece.” The matter has now been filed away into the ever-growing archives of volatile statements Trump has made about race and ethnicity during the current election cycle—a list that includes kicking off his presidential campaign by calling Mexicans rapists, calling for the “‘total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” and commenting that perhaps a Black Lives Matter protester at one of his rallies “should have been roughed up.”

But the particulars of the David Duke incident call to mind yet another news story, one that suggests that Trump’s father, the late New York real estate titan Fred Trump, once wore the robe and hood of a Klansman.

Versions of this story emerged last September when Boing Boing dug up an old New York Times article from May of 1927 that listed a Fred Trump among those arrested at a Klan rally in Jamaica, Queens, when “1,000 Klansmen and 100 policemen staged a free-for-all,” in the streets. Donald Trump’s father would have been 21 in 1927 and had spent most of his life in Queens.

As Boing Boing pointed out, the Times account simply names Fred Trump as one of the seven individuals arrested at the rally, and it states that he was released without charges, leaving room for the possibility that he “may have been an innocent bystander, falsely named, or otherwise the victim of mistaken identity during or following a chaotic event.”

A few weeks after Boing Boing unearthed that 88-year-old scoop, the New York Times asked Donald Trump about the possibility that his father had been arrested at a Klan event. The younger Trump denied it all, telling interviewer Jason Horowitz that “it never happened” four times. When Horowitz asked if his father had lived at 175-24 Devonshire Road—the address listed for the Fred Trump arrested at the 1927 Klan rally—Donald dismissed the claim as “totally false.”

“We lived on Wareham,” he told Horowitz. “The Devonshire—I know there is a road ‘Devonshire,’ but I don’t think my father ever lived on Devonshire.” Trump went on to deny everything else in the Times’ account of the 1927 rally: “It shouldn’t be written because it never happened, number one. And number two, there was nobody charged.”

Biographical records confirm that the Trump family did live on Wareham Place in Queens in the 1940s, when Donald was a kid. But according to at least one archived newspaper clip, Fred Trump also lived at 175-24 Devonshire Road: A wedding announcement in the January 22, 1936 issue of the Long Island Daily Press, places Fred Trump at that address, and refers to his wife as “Mary MacLeod,” which is Donald Trump’s mother’s maiden name.

Moreover, three additional newspaper clips unearthed by VICE contain separate accounts of Fred Trump’s arrest at the May 1927 KKK rally in Queens, each of which seems to confirm the Times account of the events that day. While the clips don’t confirm whether Fred Trump was actually a member of the Klan, they do suggest that the rally—and the subsequent arrests—did happen, and did involve Donald Trump’s father, contrary to the candidate’s denials. A fifth article mentions the seven arrestees without giving names, and claims that all of the individuals arrested—presumably including Trump—were wearing Klan attire.

The June 1, 1927, account of the May 31 Klan rally printed in a defunct Brooklyn paper called the Daily Star specifies that a Fred Trump “was dismissed on a charge of refusing to disperse.” That article lists seven total arrests, and states that four of those arrested were expected to go to court, and two were paroled. Fred Trump was the only one not held on charges.

The Klan’s reaction to the alleged police brutality at the rally was the subject of another article, published in the Queens County Evening News on June 2, 1927, and titled “Klan Placards Assail Police, As War Vets Seek Parade Control.” The piece is mainly about the Klan distributing leaflets about being “assaulted” by the “Roman Catholic police of New York City” at that same rally. The article mentions Fred Trump as having been “discharged” and gives the Devonshire Road address, along with the names and addresses of the other six men who faced charges.

Yet another account in another defunct local newspaper, the Richmond Hill Record, published on June 3, 1927, lists Fred Trump as one of the “Klan Arrests,” and also lists the Devonshire Road address.

Another article about the rally, published by the Long Island Daily Press on June 2, 1927, mentions that there were seven arrestees without listing names, and claims that all of the individuals arrested were wearing Klan attire. The story, titled “Meeting on Parade Is Called Off,” focuses on the police actions at the rally, noting criticism of the cops for brutally lashing out at the Klan supporters, who had assembled during a Memorial Day parade.

While the Long Island Daily Press doesn’t mention Fred Trump specifically, the number of arrestees cited in the report is consistent with the other accounts of the rally. Significantly, the article refers to all of the arrestees as “berobed marchers.” If Fred Trump, or another one of the attendees, wasn’t dressed in a robe at the time, that may have been a reporting error worth correcting.

According to Rory McVeigh, chairman of the sociology department at the University of Notre Dame, the version of the Klan that would have been active in Queens during the 1920s may not have necessarily participated in stereotypical KKK activities like fiery crosses and lynch mobs.

“The Klan that became very popular in the early 1920s did advocate white supremacy like the original Klan,” McVeigh told VICE in an email. “But in that respect, [its views were] not too much different from a lot of other white Americans of that time period.” In New York, McVeigh added, “the organization’s opposition to immigration and Catholics probably held the biggest appeal for most of the people who joined.”

None of the articles prove that Fred Trump was a member of the Klan, and it’s possible that he was, as Boing Boing suggested, just a bystander at the rally. But while Donald Trump is absolutely right to say that his father was not charged in the 1927 incident, the candidate’s other claims—that Fred Trump never lived at 175-24 Devonshire Road, and more importantly, that his involvement in a Klan rally “never happened”—appear to be untrue.

The Trump campaign did not respond to multiple requests for comment. . . .

Discussion

One comment for “Was Fred Trump (Donald’s Father) in the Ku Klux Klan?”

  1. Donald Trump’s dad was Woody Guthrie’s racist landlord
    And Guthrie wrote a song about Fred Trump
    July 22, 2016
    by Joe Blevins
    http://www.avclub.com/article/read-donald-trumps-dad-was-woody-guthries-racist-l-239966

    Since self-mythologizing is a key part of Donald Trump’s brand, it is a near-certainty that the public will be hearing a few glowing anecdotes about the supposed greatness of the GOP candidate’s father, Fred, between now and November. But there is one chapter of this story that Trump is bound to skip right past, even though it denies him the opportunity to drop a famous name from American history. It seems that, for two years starting in December 1950, the elder Trump was the Brooklyn landlord of legendary folksinger and rabble rouser Woody Guthrie. Consequence Of Sound’s Collin Brennan has written an eye-opening piece about the “oft-contentious relationship” that existed between these two men. Since Guthrie’s whole deal was championing the disadvantaged and disenfranchised, strumming protest songs on a guitar bearing a “This Machine Kills Fascists” sticker, it is not surprising that he and the Trump family would not get along. But what is surprising is that Trump’s father actually merited mention in Guthrie’s notebooks.

    Lots of people have grievances against their landlords, but Guthrie’s main point of contention with Trump’s father was the latter’s systemic racism. The singer of “This Land Is Your Land” was living at the time in one of Trump’s federally subsidized housing projects, a place euphemistically called “Beach Haven.” If nothing else, that name reflects the Trump family’s knack for marketing. After signing the lease, however, the singer was incensed to learn that his landlord was taking advantage of Federal Housing Authority guidelines that allowed real estate developers to keep black people out of such dwellings. He wrote about his frustrations in a poem entitled “Old Man Trump.” To wit: “I suppose/Old Man Trump knows/Just how much/Racial Hate/he stirred up/In the bloodpot of human hearts/When he drawed/That color line/Here at his/Eighteen hundred family project …”

    All that remains to be done now is for some modern-day guitar-picker to put Guthrie’s 66-year-old poem to music and perform it outside every Trump campaign event for the next four months. Interestingly, “riot folk” artist Ryan Harvey has teamed with Rage Against The Machine’s Tom Morello and Ani DiFranco to record a new version of “Old Man Trump.” Check it out….

    http://americansongwriter.com/2016/06/artists-cover-woody-guthries-lament-old-man-trump/

    2016 isn’t the only year musicians have sung out against “Old Man Trump.” A somewhat-buried Woody Guthrie track by the same name, written in outrage more than 60 years ago against the presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s father, Fred Trump, laments the bigotry and injustice of Trump’s housing projects, Beach Haven, in which Guthrie leased an apartment. Now, riot folk singer Ryan Harvey has teamed up with Rage Against The Machine’s Tom Morello and Ani DiFranco to cover Guthrie’s “Old Man Trump.”

    Guthrie’s lyrics make his position on “Old Man Trump” clear:

    “I suppose

    Old Man Trump knows

    Just how much

    Racial Hate
    
he stirred up
    
In the bloodpot of human hearts
    
When he drawed

    That color line

    Here at his
    
Eighteen hundred family project”

    The folk legend even invokes the apartment by name, singing:

    “Beach Haven ain’t my home!

    I just can’t pay this rent!

    My money’s down the drain!

    And my soul is badly bent!
    
Beach Haven looks like heaven

    Where no black ones come to roam!

    No, no, no! Old Man Trump!
    
Old Beach Haven ain’t my home!”

    Posted by Mother Muckraker | July 30, 2016, 7:15 am

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