A number of parishioners stood and turned their backs to presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg as he addressed members of the historic Brown Chapel AME Church in Selma, Alabama, on Sunday.
At least nine people took part in the protest, according to CNN, as they gathered to commemorate the 55th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” when civil rights marchers were attacked by police.
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While introducing the candidate, Reverend Leodis Strong told the churchgoers that Bloomberg first rejected his invitation to attend the Sunday service, explaining, “I’ve got to beat Donald Trump, I don’t have time to go to Brown Chapel.'” Strong then said, “I was hurt, I was disappointed.” And following Bloomberg’s response, the reverend said he threw away the candidate’s contact information.
But then, according to Strong, Bloomberg’s campaign reached out and said the former mayor had changed his mind and would attend. The reverend told the parishioners, “I think that it’s important for Mr. Bloomberg, Mayor Bloomberg, to hear from you, listen to you, to learn from you.”
Strong then added, “Let me just say this. I think it’s important that he came. And it shows a willingness on his part to change. And I like that, and I think that that is important. And I want to thank him for coming, for being here.”
But according to CBS News, as Bloomberg spoke the protesters remained standing through the end of his remarks.
Bloomberg has taken heat since he launched his campaign because of past statements when he seemed to defend the racially discriminatory policy known as redlining and his mayoral administration’s deployment and defense of using the “stop-and-frisk” policing method in minority communities.
Bloomberg’s poll numbers have suffered, perhaps due in part to these past positions. Exit polling after Saturday’s South Carolina primary, where he was not on the ballot, showed only 26 percent Democrats in the state have a favorable view of him, while 66 percent do not. Every other Democrat who is running had a favorable rating of around 50 percent.