Donald Trump has accused the Black Lives Matter movement of “dividing America” amid renewed tensions surrounding police brutality and race relations, while suggesting he identified with African Americans who felt as though the system was stacked against them.
The presumptive Republican nominee addressed the fallout from deadly police shootings of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota, and the killing of five police officers in Dallas, during both an interview with Fox News and a rally in Westfield, Indiana. He avoided going into the actual facts, which show that when other factors such as criminality are taken out of the equation, white Americans are actually more at risk of being shot by police.
While he expressed concerns over the police killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, describing videos of the encounters as “tough to watch”, Trump blamed Barack Obama and Black Lives Matter as primarily responsible for divisions over race.
“I think it’s certainly, it’s very divisive and I think they’re hurting themselves,” Trump told Fox News host Bill O’Reilly in reference to the phrase “black lives matter” and the eponymous movement leading national demonstrations for criminal justice reform.
“The first time I heard it I said ‘You have to be kidding,’” said Trump. “I think it’s a very, very, very divisive term. There’s no question about it.”