"No matter what crazy stuff Trump is up to now let's keep in mind Puerto Rico really needs our attention and help."
Those are the words of Mark Ruffalo this weekend as the actor and social justice activist echoed the concerns of many that the president's incendiary comments over recent days are serving to distract people from the severe crisis in the U.S. island territory, where power remains out for much of the island and residents are growing increasingly worried over the scale of the damage left by Hurricane Maria.
As journalist David Sirota tweeted, "Houston & FL are destroyed, Puerto Rico is in crisis & Trump wants u to be mad not at his climate denialism but instead at NFL players."
In an interview with the Washington Post on Sunday, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz described the disaster in her city and across Puerto Rico—elsewhere described as "apocalyptic"—by saying, "There is horror in the streets... People are actually becoming prisoners in their own homes."
With others urging people not to forget the destruction in the U.S. Virgin Islands as well, there was widespread concern that in addition to sowing deeper divisions around the issues of racism and police violence, Trump was actively provoking social discord in order to distract the American people from pressing issues like climate-related disasters left by recent storms and the attempt by Republicans in the U.S. Senate to push through healthcare repeal bill in the days ahead.
Trump is picking a fight with pro sports while Puerto Rico lies in ruins and all the republicans can do is take away health care…— Jared Duquette (@digitalduquette) September 24, 2017
Trump should be worried about the crisis in Puerto Rico and the healthcare bill that didn’t pass instead of prof. Athletes speaking out— Dame (@damon_smith18) September 24, 2017
Puerto Rico's 3mln American citizens remain without power and Trump is not leading. https://t.co/TASxAuYY9Q— Dan Murphy (@bungdan) September 24, 2017
My thoughts are with the people of Puerto Rico recovering from Hurricane Maria's devastation. We must do everything we can to help rebuild.— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) September 24, 2017
The fact that within the last 48hrs Trump has made taking a knee for the anthem more important than the lives in Puerto Rico makes me so sad— karls (@karlsjayy) September 24, 2017