In an interview with CBS News on Tuesday, President Trump said the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer was “terrible” but appeared to bristle when asked why Black Americans are “still dying at the hands of law enforcement in this country.”
“So are White people. So are White people. What a terrible question to ask. So are White people,” Trump told CBS News senior investigative correspondent Catherine Herridge at the White House. “More White people, by the way. More White people.”
President Trump tells @CBS_Herridge that “more White people” are dying at the hands of police than Black people. Watch excerpts on CBSN, more tonight on @CBSEveningNews and tomorrow on @CBSThisMorning https://t.co/NeBLT0LG0p pic.twitter.com/XIwyARJBBl
— CBS News (@CBSNews) July 14, 2020
A study by Harvard researchers published in late June found that Black people were three times more likely to be killed by law enforcement officers than White Americans.
CBS News notes that “police departments are not required to report comprehensive data on police killings, but researchers have compiled statistics showing Black Americans are more likely to die at the hands of law enforcement than White people. One study published in 2018 found that Black men are roughly 3.5 times more likely to be killed by law enforcement than White men. Another study released in 2019 found that one in 1,000 Black men in the U.S. can expect to die at the hands of police over the course of their lifetimes.”
Trump’s comments come after weeks of nationwide protests against police brutality and racial violence instigated by the death of Floyd, an unarmed Black man who was killed in Minneapolis after a White police officer pressed a knee to his neck for almost nine minutes.
Trump said in Tuesday’s interview that he believed the debate over the Confederate flag is a freedom of speech issue.
“All I say is freedom of speech. It’s very simple. My attitude is freedom of speech. Very strong views on the Confederate flag. With me, it’s freedom of speech. Very simple. Like it, don’t like it, it’s freedom of speech,” Trump said. In 2015, Trump said that he believed the Confederate flag should be in a museum.
When asked if he would be “comfortable” with supporters displaying the Confederate flag at his campaign events, Trump said: “You know, it depends on what your definition is. But I am comfortable with freedom of speech. It’s very simple.”
Herridge pressed Trump on whether he understood “why the flag is a painful symbol for many people because it’s a reminder of slavery.”
“Well, people love it and I don’t view — 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,”Trump said, referring to the decision by NASCAR to ban the Confederate flag from its events.
“I just think it’s freedom of speech, whether it’s freedom of speech, whether it’s Confederate flags or Black Lives Matter or anything else you want to talk about. It’s freedom of speech,” Trump continued.