Trump also dismissed anti-racism protesters as 'really bad people.'
Donald Trump refused to address systemic racism in the United States on Tuesday, telling reporters at a roundtable event that they should be more focused on the "really bad people" protesting police brutality.
Trump traveled to Kenosha, Wisconsin — despite objections from Wisconsin's governor and local officials — a week after a police officer repeatedly shot 29-year-old Black man Jacob Blake in the back, and days after a Trump supporter allegedly murdered two anti-racism protesters. There, he met with law enforcement officials, as well as business owners who sustained property damage during some of the demonstrations.
At one point, Trump was asked by a reporter whether he believes systemic racism was a problem, given the numerous accounts of police violence against Black Americans across the country.
Rather than respond directly, he scolded the reporter for even asking the question. Pressed on whether he believed there was "a need for structural change," he added that there were other citizens in Kenosha who "want to see law and order ... That's the change they want."
From a roundtable discussion in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Sept. 1, 2020:
REPORTER: We're focusing on violence action but there's been countless non-violent protests here in Wisconsin and across the country this summer, people calling for an end to systemic racism. Do you believe systemic racism is a problem in this country?
TRUMP: Well, you know, you just keep getting back to the opposite subject. We should talk about the kind of violence that we've seen in Portland, and here, and other places. It's tremendous violence. You always get to the other side, "Well what do you think about this or that?" The fact is that we have seen tremendous violence, and we will put it out very, very quickly if given the chance, and that's what this is all about.
Yeah, I keep hearing about peaceful protests. I hear it about everything, and then I come into an area like this and I see the town is burned down.
... I just say this, that the kind of violence that I saw, you may have protesters, but you have some really bad people too.
You have anarchists, and you have the looters, and you have the rioters, you have all types. You have agitators. And that's what you should be focusing on with your question. I keep hearing about peaceful protests.
It's become — really I think it's hurt the media very badly because you have somebody standing on one of the networks, I won't say which one, but there are more than one, many of them saying how it is a peaceful protest, and over the shoulder you see the whole place is burning down. It's become a pretty common sight.
So I don't view the peaceful protests. I think peaceful protesting is fantastic. I think it's great, but by and large, this is not peaceful protests.
REPORTER: The peaceful protests that have happened, you acknowledged, some are peaceful they are calling for structural change. [Jacob] Blake was shot seven times in the back. Do you believe there's a need for structural change?
TRUMP: Well, I think people are calling for structural change. And then you could take the people of Kenosha that aren't here, and that you won't see and that aren't protesting, but they want change also. They want to see law and order.
That's the change they want. They want law and order. They want the police to be police, they want the police to do what they do better than anybody else in the world, and that's what they want too.
You don't see them marching, and you don't see them on the streets, but what they want is they want great police force. They want people that are going to keep them safe, where their houses aren't broken into, where they're not raped and murdered. That's what they want. And they are protesters too, but they don't walk up and down the street.
So, you know, just the way it is. Just the way it is.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.