‘Both of them failed us’: Local community members react to first presidential debate

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ The first presidential debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden turned into what many have described as unruly and chaotic.

Brother Gary Dantzler, president of Black Lives Matter Rhode Island, tells 12 News he thought both of their performances during the debate were “disgusting.”

“You have two grown men that are running for the presidency and both of them failed us,” he said.

John DePetro, a staunch Trump supporter, said the debate was unproductive and not helpful for undecided voters.

“Unfortunately, I don’t think a lot of minds were made up last night,” he said.

The debate was fueled by interruptions and bitter taunts from both men, all while moderator Chris Wallace tried to regain control.

After being interrupted several times while trying to answer a question, Biden eventually snapped at the president, saying, “Will you shut up, man?”

“I don’t even have words to fathom what happened last night,” Dantzler said.

A major sticking point during the debate was Trump’s apparent refusal to condemn white supremacy.

“Proud Boys, stand back and stand by,” Trump said. “But I’ll tell you what. I’ll tell you what. Somebody has got to do something about Antifa and the left.”

While several Trump supporters argue that he may have misspoke, Dantzler said the president’s message was clear.

“I think that Trump is a racist and there’s a clear indication that white supremacy is going to always be around,” he said.

Trump attempted to clean up his remarks Wednesday afternoon after receiving flak.

“I don’t know who Proud Boys are,” Trump said. “But whoever they are, they have to stand down. Let law enforcement do their work.”

Dantzler believes the only way to move forward is for everyone to vote in November.

“We’ve got to get a good president in the White House and that’s a good start,” Dantzler said.

DePetro said both candidates need to express their opinions clearly on key issues, like the economy and ongoing civil unrest.

“I think everyone wants the rhetoric and everything to calm down a little bit and get into a more productive type of debate,” he said.

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