'More white people' are dying at hands of police in US, claims Donald Trump

14 July 2020, 22:55

Donald Trump dismissed the journalist who was asking him about African Americans
Donald Trump dismissed the journalist who was asking him about African Americans. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Donald Trump has dismissed a journalist who asked him why African Americans are still dying at the hands of US police, claiming "more white people" are dying.

The US President criticised CBS News' Senior Investigative Correspondent Catherine Herridge's line of enquiry, branding her question "terrible".

Referring to the death of George Floyd, who was killed after a white police officer named Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes on 25 May, Ms Herridge asked: "Why are African Americans still dying at the hands of law enforcement in this country?"

A baffled-looking Mr Trump responded: "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."

Although the figures for the racial backgrounds of those who die while in police custody are not completely clear, attempts have been made to provide clarity following the passing of the Death in Custody Reporting Act of 2013 in Congress.

However, a 54-page report from the Office of the Inspector General, published in 2018, has noted problems faced by the US Department of Justice when trying to implement the law.

Nonetheless, independent studies have repeatedly found that black men are both disproportionately stopped and killed in encounters with US law enforcement.

One study, published in 2018 in the American Journal of Public Health, found that African American men are roughly 3.5 times more likely to be killed by the police than white men.

Another, released in 2019, found that one in 1,000 black men can expect to die at the hands of law enforcement officers over the course of their lifetimes.

A Harvard study published in June this year found that more white people were killed by the police between 2013 and 2017, but they make up more of the population and, when looked at proportionately, it found black people were three times more likely to be killed in police custody.

Trump supporter mocks George Floyd death in New Jersey

The US President's comments come following weeks of nationwide and worldwide protests against police brutality and discrimination.

Black Lives Matter groups across the globe organised demonstrations in the wake of the death of George Floyd.

Meanwhile, Mr Trump also cited "freedom of speech" when discussing the Confederate flag - a symbol of controversy due to its history that dates back to slavery - during the interview.

"There are very strong views on the Confederate flag. With me it's freedom of speech, it's very simple. Like it, don't like it, it's freedom of speech," he said.

When asked whether he would be comfortable seeing his supporters waving the flag, he replied: "It depends on what your definition is, but I'm comfortable with freedom of speech."

He added: "Whether it's a Confederate flag, or a Black Lives Matter or anything else you want to talk about it's freedom of speech."