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Trump visits Dayton, El Paso amid protests (Lead)

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Washington, Aug 8 (IANS) US President Donald Trump visited Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, two cities that suffered mass shootings last week claiming the lives of 31 people, amid protests against gun laws and calls to halt anti-immigrant and racist discourse.

Trump, accompanied by his wife Melania, on Wednesday met people injured in the shootings and with relatives of the massacre victims in Dayton, where on August 4 nine people died before law enforcement personnel killed the attacker, and in El Paso, where the day before a gunman killed 22 people and wounded 26 before being captured by police, reports Efe news.

The President, who before leaving Washington claimed that his anti-immigrant rhetoric had not contributed to the shootings and, in fact, "brings people together", was dogged by the demands of demonstrators who gathered outside the Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, where several of those wounded in the shooting were being treated.

The protesters, who carried signs and chanted "Dayton strong", "Action now" and "No more hate", demanded that the President should "do something" about tightening gun laws.

Another sign with a "Baby Trump" balloon attached demanded that the President "stop being a baby" and confront the National Rifle Association (NRA), which promotes gun ownership and sales.

The President, who was in Dayton for a little less than three hours, later posted photos and a video of his visit to the hospital, where he said he had met "incredible people"

The photos and video showed Trump and his Melania meeting patients, medical personnel and police.

"It was a warm and wonderful visit. Tremendous enthusiasm and even love," said Trump on Twitter, going on to call the later press conference held by Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley and Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown a "fraud" where they had "misrepresented" what happened during his hospital visit.

Whaley told reporters that she and Brown had told the president about the "importance" of taking action on gun control, saying that Dayton residents want action from Washington.

The demands for him to take action to curb gun violence were also made against Trump in El Paso, where demonstrators gathered at several points but particularly at the mall where 21-year-old Patrick Crusius, considered to be a white supremacist, targeted Hispanic shoppers at a Walmart.

"You’re not welcome here", "We want an apology", "Trump is a racist, white supremacist" read some of the signs displayed by protesters in El Paso, amid both Mexican and US flags.

Before going on his rampage, the El Paso shooter allegedly published a manifesto online in which he used arguments Trump has used against immigrants, decrying the "invasion" of the US by Hispanics.

 

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