WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump on Tuesday praised U.S. police departments and downplayed police violence against Black people, saying “more white people” are killed by police officers.
During a CBS News interview, the Republican president was asked why Black people were still dying at the hands of law enforcement.
“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,” Trump responded.
The May 25 death of African-American George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis sparked protests across the United States and has led to an increased focus on U.S. police violence against Black people.
According to a Washington Post analysis updated on Monday, half of people killed by police are white, but Black Americans are shot at a disproportionate rate. They account for less than 13 percent of the U.S. population but are killed by police at over twice the rate of white Americans, the newspaper analysis found.
Some Americans argue that the Black Lives Matter protests have unfairly maligned the police forces.
Trump, speaking to reporters at the White House, defended police departments, saying they “do an incredible job in this country.”
“You can have a rogue, terrible cop, on occasion like you do in any industry, any business, in any profession,” Trump added.
The American Civil Liberties Union’s Jeffery Robinson said in a statement in response that Trump’s comments were racist.
“Trump’s racism is so absolute that he continues to refuse to give even a tacit acknowledgment to the epidemic of police violence against Black people in America,” he said.
Recent social unrest has raised new questions about the flying of the Confederate battle flag in areas of the country and whether statues honoring Confederate leaders during the U.S. Civil War should be removed from prominent places.
Asked by CBS if the flag should be “taken down,” Trump responded: “I know people that like the Confederate flag and they’re not thinking about slavery.”
He added: “It’s freedom of speech.”
Reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Peter Cooney and Rosalba O’Brien
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.