Trump explores racist rhetoric and minimizes police violence against black Americans

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When asked by Catherine Herridge of CBS News why African-Americans are still dying at the hands of law enforcement in the United States, Trump told the interviewer that she had posed a ” terrible question ”.

“And the whites too.” White people too. What a terrible question to ask. White people too. More whites, by the way. More whites, ”said Trump.

A federal study evaluating data on deaths between 2009 and 2012 due to lethal force by law enforcement revealed that a majority of victims were white, but that a disproportionate proportion was black, with a death rate 2.8 times higher. The study also found that black victims were more likely than white people to have been disarmed.

Trump’s comment follows a summer filled with mass protests across the country following the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis.

National calls for police reform led Trump to sign an executive order that, among other steps, created a federal database of police officers with a history of excessive use of force in June.

When signing the decree, Trump did not directly address the issue of racism. Instead, he offered a throat defense of the police and suggested that the repeated cases of officers killing unarmed blacks rested on a small number of officers.

“They are very tiny. I use the word lowercase, ”he said. “It’s a very small percentage. But nobody wants to get rid of it more than the very good and excellent police. “

In recent weeks, Trump has mainly focused on praising the police, rather than on potential new reforms. This week, for example, the White House held a roundtable this week with Americans with stories of police help.

Trump has also gotten into the habit of criticizing Black Lives Matter and defending Confederate symbols. Earlier this month, the president called the Black Lives Matter movement “a symbol of hate,” days after he retweeted and then deleted a video that included a Florida supporter shouting “White power.” The White House argued that Trump had not heard the partisan support the expression.

As calls for reform continued, Trump focused on protecting statues of Confederate icons and famous American slavers, going as far as to sign an executive decree attempting to tighten sanctions for those who disfigure statues on the federal territory.

Trump told CBS News that he believed the Confederate flag was “freedom of speech” and compared it to the same freedoms of the Black Lives Matter movement.

“I like it, I don’t like it – it’s freedom of speech,” Trump said.

Trump did not directly respond if he would approve of his supporters flying Confederate flags, saying, “It depends on your definition, but I am comfortable with freedom of expression. It’s very simple. ”

But he expressed explicit disapproval of NASCAR’s decision to ban the Confederate flag from racing, a week after the White House press secretary refused to denounce the flag and claimed that the president “was not rendering of judgment ”on the flag in his tweet aimed at the driver. Bubba Wallace.

“People love it and I know people who love the Confederate flag and they don’t think about slavery. I’m watching NASCAR… they had these flags everywhere. They arrested him. I just think it’s free speech, “Trump told CBS News. “Whether it’s Confederate flags or Black Lives Matter of whatever you want to talk about. It’s freedom of expression. ”

In a separate Tuesday interview with conservative Townhall website, Trump defended a Saint Louis couple who fired guns at protesters en route to a demonstration. The demonstrators were on their way to demonstrate outside the mayor’s residence in Saint-Louis, crossing a private street in front of the couple’s house, when the couple brandished their weapons.

“They were going to be beaten, if they were lucky, okay?” If they were lucky… and the house was going to be completely ransacked and possibly burned down, as if they were trying to burn down churches, ”said Trump. “And these people stood there, never used them, and they were legal, weapons, and now I understand someone from the region, they want to prosecute these people. It’s a shame. “

CNN’s Jason Hoffman and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.

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