Trump punts when asked about systemic racism in US
President Trump pivoted upon being asked whether he thought systemic racism is a problem in the United States on Tuesday during a press conference in Kenosha, the Wisconsin city where a Black man was shot in the back by police numerous times recently.
“You just keep getting back to the opposite subject,” Trump said when a reported asked if he though systemic racism was a problem. “We should talk about the kind of violence that we’ve seen in Portland [Oregon] and here [in Kenosha] and other places, it’s tremendous violence.”
The president also dismissed the notion that police brutality was systemic, pointing to “some bad apples” and the idea that police officers “choke sometimes” while under the pressure of their jobs.
Trump was joined by Attorney General William Barr and Homeland Security acting Secretary Chad Wolf as well as Kenosha officials, including the city’s police chief and county sheriff.
Kenosha has faced widespread protesting and unrest since Jacob Blake, 29, was shot in the back seven times by Kenosha police in front of three of his children on Aug. 23. Blake was critically injured after officers responded to a reported domestic incident.
Graphic cellphone footage showed Blake walking away from a pair of police officers toward his car. As he attempted to get in his car — where his three children were — an officer can be seen pulling Blake back by his shirt before firing several rounds.
Witnesses have said that Blake was not a part of the incident but was trying to break it up when police arrived.
Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who is representing Blake’s family, has said that Blake is paralyzed from the waist down.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) last week mobilized the National Guard to help contain the situation, with Trump sending in additional federal assets later in the week.
During the press conference, Trump lauded the work that federal officers have done in Portland, Kenosha as well as other cities like Chicago that have seen peaceful protests escalate to looting and property damage.
Protests demanding the end to systemic racism and police brutality have dominated the national spotlight this summer following the police killing of George Floyd at the beginning of the summer. Specifically, Floyd’s death served as the kindling for the regalvanization of the Black Lives Matter movement, which has argued for a series of steps to curtail systemic racism.
Trump and his administration have taken a hard-line stance on the protests while offering support for the police.
During the Republican convention, a number of speakers argued that the United States is not a racist country while leveling criticism at Democrats, who they said were presiding over lawless cities.