In the wake of recent unrest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin over the police shooting of Sylville Smith, Donald Trump is attempting to convince Wisconsin's black community that the answer to all their problems is more law enforcement. In a speech delivered Monday night in the largely white Wisconsin town of West Bend, 40 miles outside of Milwaukee, Trump spoke about the recent violence in the nearby city.
The main victims of these riots are law-abiding African-American citizens living in these neighborhoods. It is their jobs, their homes, their schools and communities which will suffer as a result. There is no compassion in tolerating lawless conduct. Crime and violence is an attack on the poor, and will never be accepted in a Trump Administration.
Trump then went on to call for "more law enforcement" and more effective policing.
The argument that African American communities should support law-and-order politics because they are more likely to be victims of crime is not new. During the late '80s and early '90s politicians from both major political parties courted the support of black community leaders using the same or similar arguments.
As CUNY professor of urban studies Michael Fortner points out, pressure from black pastors and community leaders worried about crime and drugs in their communities ultimately lead many black members of Congress to support the 1994 crime bill, despite the fact that many of those members had reservations about the bill.
However, the idea that a candidate like Donald Trump could revive these arguments in 2016 and marshal support from black communities is laughable.
Two decades of falling crime rates along with political organizing on issues of race and social justice have discredited the idea that more policing benefits black communities. And in an era where the Movement for Black Lives continues to shine a spotlight on the myriad ways over-policing harms communities of color, it seems highly unlikely that those communities would respond to any sort of law-and-order messaging.
Yet on Monday Donald Trump continued a tone-deaf appeal to black communities in which he charged Hillary Clinton with being anti-police.
Those peddling the narrative of cops as a racist force in our society – a narrative supported with a nod by my opponent – share directly in the responsibility for the unrest in Milwaukee, and many other places within our country. They have fostered the dangerous anti-police atmosphere in America.
He later went on to suggest that Clinton's lack of support for tough-on-crime policies was indicative of "bigotry" toward the African-American community.
Trump also diverted from his prepared remarks on Monday to defend the police officer who shot Sylville Smith. "The gun was pointed at [the officer's] head supposedly ready to be fired," Trump said, "Who can have a problem with that? That's what the narrative is. Maybe it's not true. If it is true, people shouldn't be rioting."