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Story highlights

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is speaking out against Republican front-runner Donald Trump

His remarks come in the wake of recent protests at the business mogul's events, some of which have turned violent

(CNN) —  

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio sharply condemned Monday rhetoric from Republican front-runner Donald Trump, in the wake of recent protests at the business mogul’s events that have turned violent.

De Blasio said on CNN’s “New Day” that Trump himself has encouraged violence against demonstrators and he uses racism “as a strategic tool.”

“We’ve seen these different historical parallels before,” de Blasio told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota. “This is the moment where people need to stand up and say Donald Trump does not represent democracy.”

The New York mayor, who’s been critical of Trump since he entered the presidential race, called the billionaire a racist in a tweet sent over the weekend.

RELATED: Trump calls for protestors to be arrested

“I didn’t realize this was in question. Behaves like a racist, speaks like a racist… of course @RealDonaldTrump is a racist,” de Blasio tweeted.

De Blasio followed up Monday, telling CNN the GOP front-runner is using racism to tap into voters’ frustration with the economy.

“Trump has tapped into that frustration and layered it with a racist appeal,” he said.

De Blasio said he welcomes anti-Trump protesters as long as they are committed to nonviolence.

RELATED: John Legend calls Trump ‘racist’

“Trying to disrupt someone who is dividing America is fine … peacefully,” the New York mayor said. “To have a guy in 2016 saying, ‘I’d like to punch him,’ that’s suggesting that it’s OK to have violence in our society toward people who act different or who look different.”