FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – On Wednesday, President Donald Trump walked back the message he sent to the extreme right neo-facist group Proud Boys during the first presidential debate.
During the debate, the president was asked if he would condemn white supremacy groups.
He then asked the moderator to give him a name of a group to condemn to which his opponent, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, suggested the Proud Boys.
President Trump then directed his message to the Proud Boys, saying, “Stand back and stand by.”
On Wednesday, he was once again asked about those words, which many have interpreted as a call to arms.
When pressed about it the following morning, the president said, “I don’t know who the Proud Boys are. All I can do is say stand down and let law enforcement do their job.”
North Texans told CBS 11 News they thought his message did the opposite of condemning and disavowing the Proud Boys and other groups like them.
Cathy Waters said, “They have taken that as a dog whistle and are running with it. They are literally standing by for his orders.”
Fort Worth resident Antwan King added, “He was letting them know if this don’t go the way I want it to. Y’all get ready because we’re going start something.”
The message created confusion for many and fear for some who believe that kind of language fuels violence and racial tensions.
TCU professor of African American Studies, Dr. Frederick Gooding, said, “He is doing whatever he can to garner support from wherever he can get unfortunately he is adapting a tactic where he is saying I’m simply going to divide a racial line to get votes based on the idea that I am a white male.”
Gooding’s colleague and TCU political science professor Dr. Jim Riddlesperger also chimed in saying, “The problem here is that without clarification there is a huge opportunity for misinformation of what president Trump meant and what he did not mean.”
On Wednesday, Joe Biden denounced white supremacy groups by saying his message to them is “Cease and desist.”