Nominees Debate Less Than 15 Miles From Ferguson, Don't Discuss Police Reform


ST. LOUIS ― Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton went head-to-head for a second time on Sunday night just miles from Ferguson, Missouri, where in 2014 an unarmed black teenager was shot and killed by police. Yet somehow, the nominees were not asked a single question about police brutality all night.

The events in Ferguson two years ago still loom over Missouri politics, and the latest polling shows that Trump is likely to win the state. Democrats running statewide have not made police reform a major component of their platforms, and there has been little progress on police reform in the state legislature since Ferguson erupted.

Nationally, support has increased for criminal justice reform and police reform, but the nominees did not discuss how they’d tackle either. There was no mention of Ferguson or the demonstrations there in 2014, which launched a national conversation over law enforcement’s treatment of black people. Likewise, there was no mention of the Black Lives Matter movement that has kept the issue at the forefront of state and national politics.

Antonio French, a city alderman currently running for mayor of St. Louis, expressed disbelief that the debate could be held just 15 miles from Ferguson and include no mention of it, or of Black Lives Matter.

Instead, Trump in his opening remarks called for “law and order” and for respecting police, but didn’t explain how his policies would accomplish this. In an attempt to reach black and Latino voters, Trump turned to the inner cities.

“I want to do things that haven’t been done, including fix our inner cities and make things better for the African-American citizens who are so great, and the Latino Americans, the Hispanics,” he said.

The debate took place at Washington University in St. Louis, about a 10-minute drive from Ferguson. Trump has made the ludicrous claim that Ferguson is one of the most dangerous places in the world, and previously said that gangs of illegal immigrants were roaming the streets in a city that is mostly black and has a small Hispanic population.

Clinton on Sunday briefly criticized Trump’s racist claims that President Barack Obama wasn’t born in the U.S., and called him out for “what he has said about African-Americans and Latinos,” among other groups. During the first presidential debate, Trump said that black and Latino people are “living in hell” because inner cities are so dangerous. He continued that during the second debate.

“I’ve heard them when Hillary is constantly talking about the inner cities of our country, which are a disaster education-wise, job-wise, safety-wise, every way possible,” Trump said. “I’m going to help the African-Americans, I’m going to help the Latinos, Hispanics, I am going to help the inner cities.”

Later, when asked how he would be a devoted president for all Americans, Trump again brought up violence and poverty in the inner cities.

“You go into the inner cities and you see it’s 45 percent poverty,” Trump said. “African-Americans, now 45 percent poverty in the inner cities. I mean it’s ― you know, and I’ve been saying it, big speeches where I have 20,000 and 30,000 people: What do you have to lose? It can’t get any worse.”

Trump blamed Clinton for the state of inner cities, saying nothing would change if she were elected.

Clinton, for her part, pointed to her time as a lawyer “working against discrimination against African-American children in schools and in the criminal justice system.”

Clinton has spoken about the need to eliminate racism in the criminal justice system. A group called “Mothers of the Movement,” which includes several black women whose children have died in police custody or during encounters with law enforcement, endorsed Clinton at the Democratic National Convention this summer. Trump, meanwhile, has courted white voters who fear the Black Lives Matter movement, and has retweeted white nationalists on a number of occasions, along with false statistics about crime and race.

Trump said in July that he would have his attorney general investigate the Black Lives Matter movement. Clinton, on the other hand, has met with advocates affiliated with Black Lives Matter and has called for improving police-community relations.

As he made the case for why he’d be a president for all Americans, including people of color, Trump mentioned several cities that have experienced unrest in the past year.

We have a very divided nation,” Trump said. “You look at Charlotte, you look at Baltimore, you look at the violence that’s taking place in the inner cities ― Chicago. You take a look at Washington, D.C. We have a increase in murder within our cities ... We have a divided nation because [of] people like [Clinton], and believe me, she has tremendous hate in her heart.”

In fact, although the national homicide rate crept up slightly in 2015, overall the last year was one of the safest on record, according to a recent report from the FBI.

Trump’s comments about inner cities, and his suggestion that a majority of African-American and Latino people live in them, didn’t go over well with people watching the debate.

Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly
political violence
and is a
style="font-weight: 400;">serial liar
style="font-weight: 400;">rampant xenophobe
style="font-weight: 400;">misogynist
who has
repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from
entering the U.S.

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