Joe Raedle/Getty Images(HEMPSTEAD, N.Y.) — Race relations have been increasingly strained in the United States in recent months in the wake of a string of police-involved shootings and killing of several police officers and they took center stage at the first presidential debate.
Moderator Lester Holt said that after the recent police-involved shootings in Tulsa, Oklahoma and Charlotte, North Carolina, a fair share of Americans say that racial tensions in this country have been “amplified” to “the highest it’s been in decades.”
Holt then asked the candidates how they planned to bridge a “very wide and bitter gap.”
Hillary Clinton: Restore Trust Between Communities and Police and Tackle ‘Plague of Gun Violence’
Clinton said that race remains “a significant challenge” in the country and “still determines too much,” including where people live, the kind of public-school education they receive and how they’re treated in the criminal justice system.
“We have to make sure that our police are using the best training, the best techniques, that they’re well prepared to use force only when necessary,” Clinton said. “Everyone should be respected by law and everyone should respect the law.”
Clinton said since “the first day” of her campaign, she’s called for criminal justice reform — a two-step process she believes would help to solve existing issues.
“We have to recognize…there are so many good, brave, police officers who equally want reform,” the former secretary of state went on to say. “So we have to bring communities together in order to begin working on that, as a mutual goal.”
Clinton said the reason why it’s necessary to “tackle the plague of gun violence” is because it’s a “big contributor to a lot of” today’s problems and because it’s the “leading cause of death of young African-American men.”
Trump: ‘We Need Law and Order’
Trump began his rebuttal by saying what he says are the “couple of words” Clinton didn’t want to use — “law and order,” long a theme of his campaign.
“If we don’t have it, we’re not gonna have a country,” Trump said.
Trump said that in inner cities, African-Americans and Hispanics are “living in hell because it’s so dangerous.”
“You walk down the street, you get shot,” Trump said about inner cities, adding that “we have to stop the violence:” in cities like Chicago, where there have been “thousands of shootings” since the beginning of 2016.
Trump said the controversial tactic of stop-and-frisk worked “very well in New York” and “brought the crime rate way down,” though an NYPD spokesman tweeted Monday night that crime has “decreased significantly” since 2011. Stop-and-frisk has declined 97 percent since then.
“You take the guns away from criminals that shouldn’t be having it,” Trump said. “We have gangs roaming the street…and they have guns, and they shoot people, and we have to be strong.”
Trump said: “We have to protect our inner cities, because African-American communities are being decimated by crime.”
He then agreed with Clinton, saying, “You need better relationships between the communities and police.”
Trump compared cities like Chicago and Ferguson, where the tensions run high between the communities and the police, to Dallas, where he called the relations a “beautiful thing.” He then reiterated his statement that “law and order” is needed in inner cities, “because the people that are most affected by what’s happening are African-American and Hispanic people.”
Clinton: There’s a Lot to be ‘Proud Of’
Clinton said during the debate it’s “really unfortunate” that Trump “paints such a dire negative picture of black communities in our country,” saying that the “vibrancy of the black church, the black businesses that employ so many people” and the “opportunities that so many families are working to provide to their kids” are something to be “proud of.”
“There’s a lot that we should be proud of and we should be supporting and lifting up,” Clinton said. “But, we do always have to make sure we keep people safe. There are the right ways of doing it, and then there are the ways that are ineffective.”
But the former secretary of state said the “systemic racism in our criminal justice system” needs to be addressed.
She added that “implicit bias” is a “problem for everyone, not just police.” But since encounters with police can have “literally fatal consequences,” she believes the federal government could be in a position where it would “offer and provide” more support and training.
Trump: African-American Communities Have Been ‘Let Down’ By Politicians
Trump said that politicians “talk good” around election time, but once elected, say “see ya later” to the African-Americans whose vote they campaigned for. The Republican candidate said he’s “met some of the greatest people” in African-American communities who have been “very upset with what their politicians have told them and what their politicians have done.”
Trump has repeatedly claimed on the campaign trail that Democrats see African-American residents only as votes.
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