On the day Donald Trump threatened — joked? blew a casual dog whistle? suggested? — that "Second Amendment people" could stop his opponent Hillary Clinton, the Detroit Economic Club profusely apologized for a series of interruptions during the Republican presidential nominee's Monday speech at Cobo Center.
President & CEO Beth Chappell said the speech, billed as a "reboot" for the Trump campaign, was interrupted over a dozen times, "in what we now know was an orchestrated effort designed to disrupt the meeting." Chappell's letter was sent to DEC members late Tuesday afternoon and was later forwarded to reporters by a spokesman.
"DEC meetings are private, much as a company business meeting or family event," she said. "You would not tolerate this behavior, nor did we."
Chappell said the protest materialized because a "misguided" 23-year-old man "fraudulently" bought a new membership and "invited female guests to do his dirty work, including a former Michigan state rep."
"New memberships were reviewed during the hectic few days leading up to the Trump meeting," she said. "His 20 guests could have raised a flag, but did not since he purchased the membership under the name of a reputable company."
"Turns out," she continued, "the perpetrator was let go from the firm two years ago," she said. "Important lesson learned."
Despite the firm wag of the DEC's collective finger, the state representative in question, Rashida Tlaib, had no regrets about what transpired.
"For my friends who called concerned about my 'political future': I love you with all my heart," Tlaib wrote on Facebook
. "You have worked so extremely hard on every single election, movement, and campaign that I have been involved in."
"I know my action yesterday will be used against me in a future run for office," she continued. "We saw it in my senate run regarding my actions against #MattyMoroun (blocking trucks, tearing down the illegal fence around Riverside Park). I can't change who I am. The labeling of my work will always be there. This is a historic time in our nation, and I will not sit on the sidelines because some view my methods in the fight for justice as political nuisance."
The speech clearly rattled the DEC. Chappell praised law enforcement from the U.S. Secret Service, Detroit Police Department, and Cobo security guards for their "masterful" ability to "swiftly and efficiently remove the trouble-makers."
"DEC members and guests made sure their applause drowned out the unacceptable interruptions," Chappell said of the interruptions of the candidate who, on Tuesday, appeared to joke about someone possibly shooting his opponent, or, in the future, her judicial picks. "Many thanks to all for not tolerating their offensive behavior. You rock!!"
Chappell said the DEC apologized to the Trump campaign and "are taking steps to ensure this does not happen again." Free speech is great, she said, and people have the right to protest — just not inside a DEC meeting.
"This is not reflective of our Club or our City," she said.
Based on Trump's remarks Tuesday, it's unclear exactly what he thought "Second Amendment people" could do, but, to many observers, it was a call for his opponent to be assassinated.
As Vanity Fair noted
, Trump's senior communications adviser, Jason Miller, didn't clarify much in a statement following Trump's Tuesday speech.
“It’s called the power of unification — 2nd Amendment people have amazing spirit and are tremendously unified, which gives them great power,” Miller said. “And this year, they will be voting in record numbers, and it won’t be for Hillary Clinton, it will be for Donald Trump.”
A spokesperson for the DEC declined to comment on Trump's remarks from Tuesday.
The economic club is known to host presidential candidates during election years, and Chappell said: "Among the other luminaries at the DEC podium, we hope Secretary Clinton will accept our open invitation before the November election."