At a roundtable event in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Wednesday August 2, Trump answered for two Black pastors in the room when they were asked whether they think police violence is a systemic issue.
The two pastors, James Ward and Sharon Ward, were pastors for Julia Jackson, the mother of Jacob Blake who was shot seven times in the back by a Kenosha police officer, sparking wide spread demonstrations in the city.
When a reporter asked the pastors whether, like other Black community leaders, they believed police violence was a systemic issue, Trump interjected;
“I don’t believe that. I think the police do an incredible job and I think you do have some bad apples.”
He added, “You do have the other situation, too, where they’re under tremendous pressure and they don’t handle it well. They call it choking and it happens.”
Trump also suggested that his personal interactions with police were enough evidence for him to know that police violence in the US was not systemic .
“No, but I don’t believe that at all,” he told the reporter. “I’ve met so many police. I have the endorsement of like, so many, maybe everybody.”
When the reporter attempted to clarify that the question was not directed toward the President, Trump interjected again and the pastors didn’t get to answer.
When Trump was personally asked whether he thinks systemic racism is a problem in the United States, Trump responded;
“Well, you know you just keep getting back to the opposite subject. We should talk about the kind of violence we’ve seen in Portland and here and other places.”
“The fact is that we’ve seen tremendous violence and we will put it out very, very quickly if given the chance,” he continued.
When asked whether there is a need for structural change to the US’ law enforcement organizations, Trump said;
“Well I think the people are calling for structural change. And then you take the people of Kenosha that aren’t here and that you won’t see and that aren’t protesting, but they want change also. They want to see law and order. That’s the change they want,” the President said.
“They want the police to be police.”
He added: “They want people that are going to keep them safe, where their houses aren’t broken into. Where they’re not raped and murdered. That’s what they want. And they’re protesters, too, but they don’t walk down the street … so, you know, just the way it is.”