An East Palestine, Ohio resident spoke out on the news that President Biden will visit his community one year after a toxic train derailment devastated the city, suggesting the commander-in-chief is only making the trip to help his 2024 campaign.
DJ Yokley warned that Americans have seen "right through" Biden's ploy during "Fox & Friends," given that 2024 is a presidential election year. His visit comes as the community continues to reel from the catastrophe that happened one year ago.
"The American people have awakened to realize that our the leader of our country did not show up to the greatest catastrophe of 2023," Yokley said on Wednesday.
"Now he's going to show up because it is an election year, and obviously, the polls show that President Trump, came and supported us when he didn't have to, and I think we saw right through it from the beginning."
"I will support any president that serves our country because otherwise it's like… rooting against your favorite team's quarterback just to see the backup," he continued. "It's a scenario where we know what he's doing. The American people see it, and now it's, hey, we have to go visit Palestine because we haven't done that yet, and... check it off the books."
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has said in the past the president will eventually visit East Palestine, but never gave further details. Earlier this month, she said, "The president will visit when it's most helpful to the community," when reporters pressed her on the matter.
Yokley said he is frustrated because other than the Biden administration claiming they would visit the town at some point, there has been little done to help residents amid lingering safety concerns.
"It's been really frustrating from a standpoint of leadership," Yokley said. "He's elected into a position of leadership to lead the free world. We see everything that he's doing across… different countries, but as American citizens, we understand that there's nothing that he's done for us and nothing that this administration has done for us other than say that he'll be coming."
"It's the resilience of the American people that has kept East Palestine moving forward and moving the chains, and we can't thank them enough," he continued.
Fox News reached out to East Palestine Mayor Trent Conaway to find out when he thought the most helpful time would be, and he told Fox News, in "my personal opinion the best time for him to come would be February of 2025 when he is on his book tour."
Conaway additionally told Fox, "The President is always welcome to our town," adding, "that being said, I don’t know what he would do here now."
Yokley said when Biden arrives in East Palestine, he will see empty storefronts, courtesy of the exodus that ensued in the days and weeks following the disaster. He made it clear that although he welcomes the commander-in-chief, he wants definitive answers.
"The frustrating part is he's going to see empty buildings, and because businesses have left… we're out of our building," Yokley said. "We had to move. It was either adapt or die, and… the thing that you learn as a competitor in sports and in business is you have to adapt, and we could not wait for Joe Biden to show up in East Palestine and help us, in order to continue our business."
The derailment happened on Feb. 3, 2023, and consisted of dozens of Norfolk Southern freight train cars, many of which contained hazardous materials. Since then, critics have accused the Biden administration of not doing enough to help the community recover and ensure residents it is safe to live there.
"The tragic part of all of this is that the residents and the business owners of East Palestine had to make a lot of tough choices along the way, and the frustrating part for us is, again, the administration didn't have to make those tough choices," Yokley said.
"There's still a lot of unanswered questions," he continued. "And again, people can feel safe or they can not feel safe. That's up to them, and there's a lot of people that are riding that fence right now, but the trouble is that the leaders, the people that we vote in the office, the people that we rely on, the people that we look to for answers, have not given us any."
Fox News' Peter Doocy, Anders Hagstrom, Patrick Ward and Gabriel Hays contributed to this report.