As the nation faces a reckoning on anti-Black racism, President Donald Trump pushed an interview Tuesday to focus on white people.
Speaking with CBS News’ Catherine Herridge, the president claimed that more white people die at the hands of police than Black people, that the Confederate battle flag is a beloved symbol equal to the Black Lives Matter movement and that a St. Louis couple who pointed guns at protesters had a right to do so.
The remarks come as the nation continues to openly grapple with racism after the death of George Floyd by a white police officer in Minneapolis on Memorial Day. Trump said Floyd’s death was “terrible,” but when Herridge asked him why Black people continue to die at the hands of police in the country, the president rejected the premise.
“So are white people. So are white people,” Trump said emphatically while staring Herridge down. “What a terrible question to ask. So are white people. More white people, by the way. More white people.”
Numerous studies have shown that Black Americans are more likely to die during interactions with law enforcement officers than whites. One study revealed that, although 52 percent of those killed by police in 17 states from 2009 to 2012 were white, Black people had a fatality rate 2.8 times higher than white people.
Herridge also asked Trump for his views on the Confederate battle flag, which has faced renewed calls for removal from public places. NASCAR and the Marine Corps notably banned the flag last month. Herridge specifically pointed out that the flag is a painful reminder of slavery for many Americans, but Trump cut in to say that “people love it.”
“I know people that like the Confederate flag, and they’re not thinking about slavery,” the president said. “I look at NASCAR. You go to NASCAR. You had those flags all over the place. They stopped it. I just think it’s freedom of speech, whether it’s Confederate flags or Black Lives Matter or anything else you want to talk about. It’s freedom of speech.”
Trump also came to the defense of a St. Louis couple who went viral after videos showed them pointing guns and yelling at anti-racism protesters who walked by their house. The couple, Mark and Patricia McCloskey, later had their gun confiscated by police as part of an investigation into the confrontation.
Trump defended the couple as protecting themselves against an angry mob about to destroy their home, evoking themes of a Second Amendment under threat that he has frequently used as a campaign tool.
“They were going to be beat up badly and the house was going to be totally ransacked and probably burned down like they tried to burn down churches,” Trump said. “And these people were standing there, never used [their gun], they were legal, the weapons, and now I understand somebody local, they want to prosecute these people. It’s a disgrace.”
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch found that the couple had a history of litigious and confrontational relationships with their neighbors, in at least one instance to gain control of what had been designated communal land.
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