Trump On Black Communities: Be Afraid

“Right now, you walk down the street. You get shot.”

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Akron, Ohio, Monday, Aug. 22, 2016. CREDIT: AP Photo/Gerald Herbert
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Akron, Ohio, Monday, Aug. 22, 2016. CREDIT: AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

During a rally Monday night in Akron, Ohio, Donald Trump continued his recent African American and Latino “outreach” effort by presenting perhaps the bleakest portrait of life in urban America he’s come up with yet.

Flanked by mostly white faces, Trump addressed blacks and Latinos specifically and said that if he’s elected, “you’ll be able to walk down the street without getting shot. Right now, you walk down the street. You get shot.”

Trump cited out-of-context crime statistics to bolster his point.

“Homicides are up nearly 50 percent in Washington, D.C. and more than 60 percent in Baltimore,” he said. “The level of crime in these cities is something no American should consider acceptable. Our government has totally failed our African American friends, our Hispanic friends and the people of our country, period. The Democrats have failed completely in the inner cities.”

But as ThinkProgress has covered previously, trying to glean trends from the sorts of small sample sizes Trump employs — his claim about D.C. refers to homicides so far this year compared to last year, for instance — results in misleading conclusions. The longer term data actually indicates violent crime in American cities has been declining for two decades.

Trump has gotten in the habit of speaking about urban America in dire terms in front of predominately white audiences at rallies a good distance from major cities. Last week, he delivered his major crime speech in a 92 percent-white exurb located about an hour away from Milwaukee.

On CNN last night, Corey Lewandowski was asked about why Trump seems reluctant to actually speak directly to the black and Latino voters he’s been aggressively courting for the better part of a week. Lewandowski, who managed Trump’s campaign before he took a job shilling for his former boss on TV, said Trump doesn’t hold rallies in cities because he doesn’t think he’d be safe.

“You know what’s amazing to me is that no one remembers Donald Trump went to go have a rally in Chicago at the university. And remember what happened?” Lewandowski told a panel on Anderson Cooper’s show. “It was so chaotic and it was so out of control that the Secret Service and the Chicago Police Department told him you cannot get in and out of the facility safely. And that rally was cancelled.”

When other panelists noted that what Lewandowski was saying had little to do with the question of why Trump won’t speak directly to black voters, Lewandowski pointed out that the South Side of Chicago “is a black community.”

“He went to the heart of Chicago to give a speech to the University of Chicago in a campus that is predominately African American to make that argument,” Lewandowski said. “And you know what happened? The campus was overrun and it was not a safe environment.”

The “argument” Lewandowski refers to amounts basically to this — you might as well vote for Trump, because Democrats aren’t getting the job done. Pressed last night by Bill O’Reilly about what he would do specifically to reduce crime in Chicago, Trump merely said he’d try to get people in positions of power who are willing to use “tough police tactics.”

A new NBC News/SurveyMonkey poll indicates Trump’s recent courting of black and Latino voters might be helping his standing among those demographics a bit — he now has the support of eight percent of blacks and 22 percent of Latinos. Earlier polls pegged him with as little as one percent support from blacks and with 87 percent of Latinos evaluating him unfavorably.