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Trump Ad Tries to Stoke Fear of Protesters With 2014 Photo … From Ukraine

Nice try.

A police officer attacked by protesters during clashes in Ukraine, Kyiv. Events of February 18, 2014-1

Donald Trump wants people to be afraid. Not of the coronavirus or the rise of fascism in our own country, not of police violence or government lies … but of the people protesting all of those things. Trump is losing support in the suburbs and swing states and so he wants to scare potential voters with pictures—like the one above, of protesters—brutalizing police in a city full of rubble …

This is the image Trump is using to reach out to Evangelical voters.

trump campiagn ad screenshot comparing trump with military to protest in ukraine.

Via Business Insider

Quite the striking contrast until you know that the photo on the right is from a protest in Ukraine in February of 2014. At that time, protesters in Ukraine were engaged in a bloody struggle that saw the government toppled and the outing of then-President Viktor Yanukovych. That conflict is now known as The 2014 Ukrainian Revolution. This destabilization was a factor in the later Russian annexation of Crimea and Vladimir Putin extending his power in the region.

The fact that Trump is using a photo from 6 years ago, that’s available for anyone to use on Wikimedia Commons, is bad. It’s deceptive and it’s a racist dog whistle too. Trump wants to scare white suburban voters by saying that Joe Biden wants to abolish the police and suburbs (he doesn’t) and that a vote for Biden means a vote for “chaotic and violent” protesters overrunning the country. “People have worked all their lives to get into a community, and now they’re going to watch it go to hell,” Trump declared from the South Lawn of the White House.

What’s even scarier here though is that his campaign is using pictures from a pro-democracy protest where many people were killed by state forces. It was a violent and dangerous clash for protesters, and at a moment when Trump has sent federal forces to Portland, Oregon—where they are at this very moment using their own violent, anti-democratic protests against demonstrators—the use of this image, in particular, becomes incredibly chilling.  When you consider how Trump tried to get Ukraine to influence this election, and when Ukraine is, like Trump, subject to Russia’s interference, this is even worse.

This ad has run three times at least on Facebook, targetting Evangelicals, and it’s part of Trump’s bigger push to win white voters and the suburbs by trying to portray cities and the people of color who live there as dangerous threats. So far, it’s not working and even people in the suburbs are reacting to Trump’s crackdown in Portland and his massive failures to address the racial unrest in the country with horror and anger.

Donald Trump is a liar and this is just another way he’s been caught in a blatant lie, but it tells an entire story about his campaign, his priorities: He only wants to be president of some of America and wants to destroy the rest of it.

(via: Business Insider, image: Wikimedia Commons)

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Jessica Mason (she/her) is a writer based in Portland, Oregon with a focus on fandom, queer representation, and amazing women in film and television. She's a trained lawyer and opera singer as well as a mom and author.