“It’s a terrible thing that we’re witnessing,” Donald Trump says. | Getty
Donald Trump on Thursday subtly pinned the blame for the turmoil in Charlotte, North Carolina, on President Barack Obama, suggesting that the violent protests there highlight a racial divide in America that Obama has failed to mend as president.
“It just seems that there’s a lack of spirit between the white and the black,” Trump said Thursday during a phone interview with “Fox and Friends.” “I mean, it’s a terrible thing that we’re witnessing. You’re seeing it. I’m seeing it, and you look at what went on last night in Charlotte — a great place — and you just see it.”
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Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney told reporters Thursday that he will show the family the video that captured an exchange in which a black police officer fatally shot Keith Lamont Scott, a black man who officers contend was armed when he was struck on Tuesday.
The video, however, will not be released to the public yet, said Putney, who added that he did not see a subject pointing a gun in any of the video footage he has reviewed.
“So what I can tell you, though, is when taken in the totality of all the other evidence, it supports what we’ve heard in the version of the truth that we gave about the circumstances that happened that led to the death of Mr. Scott,” he said.
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory declared a state of emergency in Charlotte on Wednesday night after violence erupted as residents continued to protest Scott’s death. According to reports, police in riot gear used tear gas to try to calm protesters, several of whom were injured, including one who was shot by another protester, police said.
“I see it even going out. There’s such a lack of — there’s a lack of spirit,” Trump said. “There’s a lack of something. Something’s going on that’s bad, and what’s going on between police and others is getting worse.”
The Republican presidential nominee renewed his call for law and order, pitching it as the solution to the unrest in Charlotte and outrage nationwide over police-involved shootings of black men, who in many cases have been unarmed when they were fatally shot.
“Well, it’s wow, here we go again,” Trump said, reacting to news of protests following another officer-involved shooting. “It’s very sad. When you look at what’s going on, it’s very sad. It’s very divided, our country, and it’s getting worse. I’m not overly surprised to see it, but it’s happening.”
Trump argued that a dialogue between police and the communities they serve won’t solve this problem, pointing to the ambush in Dallas this summer, when a black man killed five officers and injured a dozen more.
“If you look at Dallas, there was a dialogue. They prided themselves on dialogue,” Trump said. “And they were constantly talking and meeting and having community groups and, you know, that was — that was a pretty rough situation, to put it mildly. A terrible, terrible situation. That sounds good. It sounds right, but there’s something deeper than that.”
What’s necessary, Trump maintained, is a combination of law and order and leadership that unify a divided nation, leadership he intimated is lacking from America’s current leader.
“Well, it really has to be — you have to have law and order at the time, you have to have, you know, you have to have a certain spirit, a certain unity, and there’s no unity,” Trump said. “You look at the level of hatred, the, you know, the rocks being thrown and everything happening. It’s so sad to see. You know, this is the United States of America. I mean, it’s so sad to see. But there’s just no unity. There has to be a unity message that has to get out, and it starts with leadership.”
But what Trump didn’t say explicitly, his surrogates did. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani appeared in separate Fox News segments in which they both slammed Obama’s lack of leadership.
“First of all, it’s a tragedy that eight years after our first African-American president took office, eight years after we’ve had two African-American attorney generals, the gap and the hostility, if anything, is worse, and I think that’s a tragic failure of leadership,” Gingrich said.
“But my guess is he was afraid it’d make him a black president in a narrowing sense,” he added. “He could have launched a program to try to rebuild and reopen and reengineer hope in these communities. And instead, he became the person who talked about, you know, the Cambridge policeman was wrong, and, you know, Ferguson was wrong and why Florida was wrong.”
Giuliani said Obama should have lectured Americans on constitutional law Wednesday. Referring to last Friday’s shooting death of Terence Crutcher, who was unarmed with his hands raised when he was fatally shot by a white police officer, the former New York mayor acknowledged that that incident was “a more difficult situation” that belongs in the “ambiguous, troubling category.”
“But even there, you gotta say to people, ‘Wait, let the investigation play out.’ The president of the United States should have said that yesterday,” Giuliani said. “The president of the United States should have given people a teeny bit of a lecture on constitutional law, that we presume people innocent, and that same presumption exists for police officers as everyone else.”
Louis Nelson contributed to this report.