The president said it was a "terrible" question after a CBS reporter asked him: "Why are African Americans still dying at the hands of law enforcement in this country?"

By Sean Neumann
July 15, 2020 03:46 PM
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During a Tuesday interview with CBS News, President Donald Trump said it was a"terrible" question when asked why Black people are "still dying at the hands of law enforcement in this country."

"And so are white people. So are white people. What a terrible question to ask. So are white people," Trump, 74, replied. "More white people, by the way. More white people."

A federal study did find that more white people died at the hands of police officers in all. But that number doesn't reflect differences in population: Black people, who are a minority, are killed by police at a greater rate.

White people make up about 76 percent of the U.S., while Black people make up about 13 percent, according to the Census Bureau.

An American Public Health Association study found "Black and Latino men are at higher risk for death than are White men, and these disparities vary markedly across place." Another study from Harvard researchers released last month stated that "1 in 1000 Black men can expect to die of police violence over the course of their lifetime."

Citing a federal study from 2009 to 2012, The New York Times reported "Black people had a fatality rate at the hands of police officers that was 2.8 times as high as that of white people."

Elsewhere in the CBS interview on Tuesday, the president defended the right to fly the Confederate flag as "free speech," saying it was controversial but defendable just like Black Lives Matter.

The question about people being killed by police was prefaced by noting Trump has spoken out about the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May.

Floyd, a Black man, died in police custody after being filmed pleading for air while a white officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes.

Afterward, protests against injustice and police misconduct spread around the country.

Trump has called Floyd's death "terrible" and said he stood with Floyd's family in seeking justice, but his focus has largely been on the resulting demonstrations, some of which have included violence.

President Donald Trump
| Credit: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

The president has a long history of racially inflammatory and racist comments, including notoriously spreading the conspiracy theory that former President Barack Obama was secretly born outside the U.S.

He has chafed at criticisms of his comments however. "I don’t have a Racist bone in my body!" he tweeted last year.

Trump has been repeatedly criticized for appearing to stoke tensions between protesters and police, calling some of the demonstrators "THUGS" and tweeting in May that "when the looting starts, the shooting starts."

To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:

• Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.

ColorofChange.org works to make the government more responsive to racial disparities.

• National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help Black youth succeed in college and beyond.