During Trump’s unhinged rally in Phoenix on Tuesday night, many couldn’t help but noticing an African American man standing prominently — perhaps strategically — behind the president, holding a sign proclaiming “BLACKS FOR TRUMP” and wearing a T-shirt reading “TRUMP & Republicans Are Not Racist” and plugging the website “gods2.com.” And likewise, many wondered, hey, what’s up with that guy?
Well, following the Phoenix rally, the Washington Post did some digging into the background of “Michael the Black Man” as he prefers to be called — also known as Michael Symonette, Maurice Woodside, and Mikael Israel, among his various aliases — and the short answer to that question is, “nothing good.”
A quick trip to his website (another URL he runs, “Blacksfortrump2020.com” directs to the same place) reveals disturbing, unintelligible conspiracy theories, such as that the “real KKK slave masters” are Cherokee Indians and that ISIS and Hillary Clinton are plotting a race war to kill all black and white women of America, among others. The Post also mentions that in the past, Michael has said that Hillary Clinton is a Ku Klux Klan member, has called Barack Obama “The Beast” and said that Oprah Winfrey is “the devil.”
But perhaps most disturbing of all is that Michael is a former cult member who was charged with conspiracy to commit two murders in the ’90s. The cult was led by a man who went by Yahweh Ben Yahweh (real name, Hulon Mitchell Jr.), who was eventually sentenced to 11 years on charges of racketeering and conspiracy in 14 murders, in addition to a firebombing; while six members of the cult including Michael were later acquitted. His conspiracy website hilariously points out that “Maurice/Michael has no criminal record for proof click URL below,” with a link that leads to a Facebook post with photos of various legal documents and unofficial-looking certificates.