CLEVELAND (AP) — Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are decrying police-involved shootings in Oklahoma and North Carolina, with the Democrat calling them “unbearable” and the Republican saying he was “very troubled.”
Trump’s effort to court black voters Wednesday in Cleveland took a bizarre turn when he was introduced by boxing promoter Don King, who used a racial slur as he made the case for black voters to support Trump. In an interview later, Trump called for a national expansion of “stop-and-frisk,” the police tactic that a federal judge ruled can be discriminatory against minorities.
Trump’s Cleveland event not only sought to connect with a large community of African-American voters key to Clinton’s prospects in Ohio, but also with moderate suburban voters, who frequently hear Clinton describe Trump as extreme.
King, introducing Trump, raised eyebrows when he said a black man is always framed by his skin color, recalling that he once told pop icon Michael Jackson “if you’re poor, you’re a ‘poor Negro.’ If you’re rich, you’re a ‘rich Negro.'” An educated black man is “an intellectual negro.”
King, who is black, continued: “If you’re a dancing and sliding and gliding n—–— I mean Negro — you are ‘a dancing and sliding and gliding Negro.'” Gasps and laughs could be heard from the audience.
The King incident underscored the often clumsy way in which Trump has made his appeal to minority voters. His outreach has also been viewed cynically as an attempt by his campaign to soothe concerns among more moderate, suburban voters.
At the end of the Ohio church event, Trump was asked about recent high-profile police shootings in Oklahoma and North Carolina. Trump said 40-year-old Terence Crutcher, who was killed in Friday’s Tulsa, Oklahoma, shooting, “looked like he did everything you’re supposed to do. And he looked like a really good man.”
“This young officer, I don’t know what she was thinking. I don’t know what she was thinking but I’m very, very troubled by that,” Trump said, calling it a “terrible situation.”
But hours later he called for the expanded use of stop-and-frisk, a police tactic that a federal judge has ruled can be discriminatory against minorities. Trump said during a Fox News town hall taping that the tactic, which gives police the ability to stop and search anyone they deem suspicious, had “worked incredibly well” in New York, where it was expanded under former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Current New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat who supports Clinton, slammed Trump’s call for more stop-and-frisk as “appalling.”
Clinton’s speech Wednesday in Orlando, Florida, focused on helping people with disabilities thrive in the U.S. economy. She pointed to the Oklahoma and North Carolina shootings at the start of her remarks, saying they added two more names “to a long list of African-Americans killed by police officers. It’s unbearable and it needs to become intolerable.”
Clinton has made curbing gun violence and police brutality a central part of her candidacy. She has campaigned alongside a group of black women called the “Mothers of the Movement,” who advocated for more accountability and transparency by law enforcement. The group includes the mothers of Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, black victims of high-profile killings.
Video of the Oklahoma shooting shows Crutcher’s hands up as officers approach. Crutcher then appears to place his hands on a vehicle before the officers surround him. He then drops to the ground. Someone on the police radio says, “I think he may have just been tasered.” Then almost immediately, someone can be heard yelling, “Shots fired!” Crutcher is left lying in the street.
In Charlotte, North Carolina, on Tuesday, 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott was fatally shot by Charlotte police officer Brentley Vinson. Officers said Scott was armed and posed a threat. Street demonstrations continued into the early hours Thursday.