Donald Trump ‘twists stats’ with police brutality against whites claim
President accused of leaning into ‘racist rhetoric’ to play down violence against black Americans
Donald Trump has stoked simmering racial tensions by claiming that US police kill “more white people” than black people.
The president made the controversial claim after describing the death of George Floyd during an arrest in Minneapolis in May as “terrible”. Asked why black Americans are “still dying at the hands of law enforcement in this country”, Trump told CBS News: “And so are white people.”
“What a terrible question to ask,” he continued. “So are white people. More white people, by the way. More white people.”
Official data paints a less clear picture, however. A federal study into deaths at the hands of US police between 2009 and 2012 found that while a majority of victims were white, a disproportionate number were black, with a fatality rate 2.8 times higher.
Separate research by US academics who analysed data on deaths between 2012 and 2018 found that black men were around 3.5 times more likely to be killed by law enforcement than white men. And an academic study published last year concluded that one in 1,000 black men in the US “can expect to be killed by police” - a rate about 2.5 times higher than that for their white peers.
Trump’s apparent dismissal of such data has sparked widespread condemnation.
CNN says the president “repeated racist talking points in downplaying police violence against Black Americans”. The Guardian compares Trump’s defensive retort to his “fine people on both sides” comment after white nationalist marchers and counter-protesters clashed in the Virginia city of Charlottesville in 2017.
In June, Trump signed an executive order paving the way for the creation of a federal database of police officers with a history of using excessive force.
Yet even while signing the order into law, Trump launched what CNN describes as a “full-throated defence of police”, suggesting that a “very tiny” number of officers were behind the killings of unarmed black Americans.