West Bend, Wisconsin: US Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on Tuesday delivered his most aggressive call yet for African-American voters to back his campaign and said he would restore law and order in America, only days after a fatal police shooting of a black man sparked more street violence.
Speaking just a few miles from Milwaukee, which was rocked by riots on Saturday and Sunday, Trump said his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton was engaged in ‘bigotry’ and vowed to protect the jobs of minorities from immigrants. Trump as been repeatedly called a ‘bigot’ by his Democratic opponents.
“I’m asking for the vote for every African American citizen struggling in our society today who wants a different and much better future,” Trump said.
“Jobs, safety, opportunity, fair and equal representation; we reject the bigotry of Hillary Clinton which panders to and talks down to communities of colour and sees them only as votes – that’s all they care about – not as individual human beings worthy of a better future. They are taking advantage.”
Earlier in the day, Trump held three events in Milwaukee, a city still reeling from violent protests after the death of Sylville Smith, 23. Authorities said Smith was stopped for acting suspiciously and was shot by police because he was carrying an illegal handgun and refused orders to drop it.
Trump encountered only a handful of peaceful protesters while he was in the city, including at a closed fundraiser.
Trump held a brief meeting in the city with veterans and law enforcement, including Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke and Inspector Edward Bailey. But news media representatives were escorted out and not permitted to hear the discussions.
Clarke, who is black and who spoke at the Republican National Convention last month, has been critical of the protests, including writing in an opinion piece for the Hill that “it was a collapse of the social order where tribal behaviour leads to reacting to circumstances instead of waiting for facts to emerge.”
Trump also taped a town hall meeting with Fox News, in which he blamed President Barack Obama for what he sees as hostility toward police. “He has not been good to the police simply and the police are not big fans of his,” Trump said.
Trump travelled 45 minutes outside of Milwaukee, a city that is 40% black, to deliver his appeal to African-American voters in the suburb of West Bend, Wisconsin, a community that is 95% white. He spoke before an almost entirely white audience.
“A vote for her (Clinton) is a vote for another generation of poverty, high crime and lost opportunities,” Trump said. “Crime and violence is an attack on the poor and it will never be accepted in a Trump administration.”
Clinton won the Democratic nomination in part thanks to her large margins of victory among minorities in nearly every state, including overwhelming support from African-American voters in the South.
Her campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Trump’s remarks.
Trump also took aim at Clinton’s past acceptance of large speaking fees, saying he would force top administration officials to sign a pledge not to accept speaking fees from corporations with registered lobbyists or foreign countries for five years after leaving office.
Police violence against African-Americans has set off intermittent, sometimes violent protests in the past two years, igniting a national debate over race and policing in the US and giving rise to the Black Lives Matter movement.
Trump said those who sought to criticise police “share in the responsibility for the unrest in Milwaukee and other places in our country.”
“The war on our police must end and it must end now,” Trump said. “The war on police is a war against all peaceful citizens.”
Trump, in an interview with Fox News on Tuesday morning, argued the shooting of Smith was likely justified.
“But the gun was pointed at his (a police officer’s) head supposedly ready to be fired. Who can have a problem with that? That’s what the narrative is,” Trump told Fox News. “Maybe it’s not true. If it is true, people shouldn’t be rioting.”
Meanwhile, officials from the Office of Director of National Intelligence are expected to give Trump a briefing on national security issues this week, an adviser to Trump and a source familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.
Presidential candidates are entitled to receive a briefing of classified information after they formally secure the nomination, which Trump did last month. Hillary Clinton, Trump’s Democratic rival for the November 8 election, is also entitled to receive a briefing if she requests one.
Democrats have criticised Trump’s positions on foreign policy and national security, as well as of some of his freewheeling remarks. Democratic President Barack Obama has called Trump ‘unfit’ for the presidency and earlier this month warned the Republican candidate that briefing information must be kept secret.