By Joan E. Cashin
Donald Trump’s father was arrested at a Klan riot.
Most of the national media studiously avoided printing that simple declarative sentence since Donald Trump decided to run for president. Most of the country’s politicians have remained strangely silent on the topic.
Public commentators did not connect the dots even as President-elect Trump attacked the civil rights hero, John Lewis, when having a Klan sympathizer for a father would seem to be highly pertinent in explaining his behavior.
Yet the factual evidence seems strong. Trump’s father Fred was arrested in New York City in 1927, when a group of Klansmen got into a brawl with police officers during a Memorial Day parade in Queens. There is a document trail, and the names, dates, and addresses match up. The New York Times published a story about the riot and the seven men who were arrested; Fred Trump is mentioned by name. His address is given at 175-24 Devonshire Road, Jamaica, New York City, and the federal census of 1930 shows that Fred Trump resided at that address. The newspaper does not identify him as a Klan member, or clarify whether he was wearing a Klan robe—as were many of the demonstrators―but he did get arrested, and all seven men were represented by the same attorneys. Two days after the brawl, Fred Trump was discharged from custody, with no explanation that can be discovered from public records. After the website Boing Boing reported the story in 2015, Donald Trump denied it, and he has not publicly discussed it since then.
The New York Daily News, the Washington Post, the New York Times and a few other news outlets mentioned the connection briefly in 2016, and then they dropped it. Throughout the campaign, most of the media maintained a deafening silence, as did most of the nation’s politicians in both parties. If Fred Trump was a full-fledged Klansman, no one seemed interested in pursuing the story. Journalists and politicians displayed the most determined zeal in investigating every aspect of Hillary Clinton’s email in 2016, and 20 years ago they showed the same zeal in investigating the Clintons’ investment in Whitewater.