WASHINGTON — By Lauren Egan – The president’s comments come amid his continuing messaging struggle following the death of George Floyd and the nationwide protests that followed. President Donald Trump on Tuesday refused to answer a question about police violence against Black people, instead pointing out that white people are also sometimes victims of police violence.
“And so are white people, so are white people,” Trump said in an interview with CBS’s Catherine Herridge when asked why Black Americans are still dying at the hands of law enforcement.
“What a terrible question to ask. So are white people, more white people by the way, more white people,” Trump continued.
White people make up roughly half of the people shot and killed annually by police, according to a Washington Post database tracking fatal police shootings in the United States. But the Census Bureau estimates that roughly 76 percent of the country is white while only 13 percent is Black. According to the Washington Post database, the rate at which Black people are shot and killed by law enforcement is twice as high than that of white people.
Trump during the interview also once again defended the Confederate flag, saying that “it’s freedom of speech.”
When asked if Trump would be comfortable with his supporters displaying the Confederate flag at political events, Trump said that it he was “comfortable with freedom of speech.”
“I know people that like the Confederate flag and they’re not thinking about slavery. I look at NASCAR, you go to NASCAR, you had those flags all over the place, they stopped it. I just think it’s freedom of speech — whether its Confederate flags, or Black Lives Matter, or anything else you want to talk about — it’s freedom of speech,” Trump said.
NASCAR announced in June it would ban Confederate flags from its events after Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr., the only black driver in the racing association’s top series, called for change in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd.
Trump has been criticized for his insistence on protecting monuments that honor Confederate leaders who fought to protect slavery and uphold white supremacy. Trump went as far as to threaten to veto Congress’ annual defense authorization bill if it contained language to rename U.S. military bases honoring Confederate commanders, such as Fort Bragg in North Carolina, Fort Benning in Georgia and Fort Hood in Texas.