Spin Cycle

News, views and commentary on Long Island, state and national politics.

CLEVELAND - A grassroots veterans group on Tuesday called on Donald Trump to “change his rhetoric” and accused the presidential candidate of using veterans as political props to advance bigotry and divisiveness.

Alexander McCoy, founder of #VetsvsHate, an anti-Trump veterans group, said in a news conference in the Public Square here that Trump “has continued a long and disturbing trend of using veterans as political props.”

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“We saw that yesterday in the speeches that were given at the Republican National Convention where once again Donald Trump has exploited the grief of families who have lost loved ones to advance his own political ambitions,” said McCoy, 28, a Marine Corps veteran from 2008 to 2013 and Columbia University political science student.

Among the speeches on the first day of the convention, Patricia Smith, whose son Sean, 34, was killed during the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, said: “I blame Hillary Clinton personally for the death of my son.”

McCoy said: “We call on Donald Trump to change his rhetoric and to seriously engage with the issues facing our country.”

McCoy organized the anti-Trump protests in the spring after the candidate failed to donate money to veterans groups.

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On Tuesday, about a dozen members of #VetsvsHate and Iraq Veterans Against the War held a banner that said: “We Stand with our Muslim sisters and brothers.”

Dallas native Ramon Mejia, 33, who is involved with the group said Trump’s comments have disrespected him as a Latino, a Muslim and a veteran.

“He’s using veterans as props. He’s discriminated against Mexican immigrants, and he’s made derogatory comments and discriminated against Muslims as well,” said Mejia, 33, a Biloxi, Mississippi resident who served in the Marine Corps from 2001 to 2004, including a tour in Iraq.

“It’s like my entire existence has been nothing to him.”