Before leaving for the cities, U.S. President Donald Trump said his rhetorics don't contribute to violence and he believes it “brings people together”.
Residents of El Paso and Dayton protested the U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit Wednesday after they suffered two deadly mass shootings that shocked the country.
"We do not need anybody fanning the flames of hate, anger, and racism," activist David Nevarez said Tuesday. "There's enough in this world already."
Trump visited Dayton, Ohio first where he went to meet the survivors, first responders, and staff at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton.
Dozens of protesters outside the hospital set up a "baby Trump" blimp balloon and held signs reading "Do Something," "Save our city," and "You are why."
Later in the day, Trump will visit the Texas city of El Paso, on the border with Mexico, where 22 people were killed at a Walmart store Saturday by a 21-year-old man who had posted an anti-immigrant manifesto online.
The back-to-back massacres, occurring 13 hours apart, have reopened the national debate over gun safety and led protesters in Dayton to heckle Ohio's Republican governor, Mike DeWine, at a vigil for the shooting victims with chants of "Do something!"
As he left the White House, Trump said he wanted to strengthen background checks for gun purchases. He predicted congressional support for the same but not for banning assault rifles.
"I can tell you that there is no political appetite for that at this moment," Trump told reporters at the White House. "But I will certainly bring that up ... There is a great appetite, and I mean a very strong appetite, for background checks."
Trump also said that his rhetorics had any contribution to violence. “No, I don’t think my rhetoric has at all,” he said, adding that he believes it “brings people together”.
In Dayton, Trump was greeted at the airport by a bipartisan group of state and local officials, including Democratic Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, who had said she would welcome Trump but planned to tell him he had been "unhelpful" on the issue of gun violence.
An open letter to Trump Wednesday in the El Paso Times described the border city as having "a deep tradition of racial harmony" whose people came together after the tragedy. It admonished Trump for calling El Paso one of the country's most dangerous cities in his February State of the Union address.
"The violence that pierced El Paso, drawing you here today, is not of our own community," wrote editor Tim Archuleta. "An outsider came here to shatter our city, to murder our neighbors. A white man from another Texas city came to target the more than 80% of us who share Hispanic roots."
Organizations such as Border Network for Human Rights and Women's March El Paso will demonstrate against Trump when he visits.
"President Trump is not welcome in El Paso," one event page on Facebook for the protests said adding that “his narrative around immigrants and Central Americans should not be welcome anywhere."
Democratic Representative from El Paso, Veronica Escobar also said that Trump is not welcome in the city and that she declined an invitation from White House to join Trump’s visit.
"From my perspective, he is not welcome here. He should not come here while we are in mourning," said Escobar. "I would encourage the president's staff members to have him do a little self-reflection. I would encourage them to show him his own words and his actions at the rallies."