Donald Trump got defensive when asked why Black people are still dying at the hands of police recently, arguing that ‘more’ white people are killed by law enforcement each year.
The President of the United States once more ignored the public mood surrounding the ongoing problem of racially-motivated police brutality, instead attempting to re-focus attention towards white issues.
Rather than take the time to address the very real problem faced by a significant proportion of the US population because of systemic racism and a corrupt system, Trump decided to brush over the issue by making it about something else entirely.
In an interview with ‘ Catherine Herridge, Trump said the killing of George Floyd was ‘terrible’ before refusing to expand on why this was, bristling away from a follow-up question about police conduct.
When asked, ‘Why are African Americans still dying at the hands of law enforcement?’ the president responded: ‘And so are white people. So are white people. What a terrible question to ask. So are white people. More white people by the way, more white people.’
Not only is Trump’s response entirely misleading and inaccurate – we’ll get to that in a minute – but it begs the question: even if this was the case, why would the President of the United States think this was okay?
Why would he be so keen to boast about it instead of accepting that serious change needs to be implemented in order to fix the clearly broken system in which police have already killed a total of 598 people so far this year?
Police departments are not required to report comprehensive data on police killings, and so it’s not possible to break these figures down according to race that way.
However, over the years researchers have compiled statistics showing Black Americans are more likely to die at the hands of law enforcement than white people.
One such resource is Mapping Police Violence, ‘America’s most comprehensive database of killings by police,’ which found Black people are three times more likely to be killed by police than white people. Of these killings, Black people are 1.3 times more likely to be unarmed compared to white people.
A similar 2016 analysis by also found that African Americans are 2.5 times more likely to be shot and killed by police offers as white Americans, while a study published in 2018 found Black men are roughly 3.5 times more likely to be killed by law enforcement than white men.
It’s important to note that according to last year’s Mapping Police Violence figures, 406 white people were killed by police across the US. In comparison, 259 Black people were killed out of a total 1,098.
To put that into perspective, white people accounted for 37% of last year’s police killings while Black people accounted for 23.6%. Yet white people constitute a much larger portion of the US population (76.3%) than Black people (13.4%).
So while Trump’s claim that the number of white people killed by the police is greater than that of the Black population might be correct in a literal sense – because yes, more white people did die at the hands of police in 2019 – it’s clear from the data that Black Americans are being killed at a disproportionate rate.
Yet rather than condemn this in his interview, or condemn any form of police brutality for that matter, Trump once again became defensive and changed the topic of conversation. He also refused to condemn the Confederate flag – a symbol of slavery – saying ‘people love it’ and describing it as a ‘freedom of speech’ issue.
Then again, what else can we expect from a president who consistently refused to condemn the white supremacists who advocated for him (including white nationalist and former KKK leader David Duke) and who just last year told four congresswomen of colour to ‘go back to where they came from‘?