How Trump has twisted everything to claim that 'more white people' are killed by police and make it true

How Trump has twisted everything to claim that 'more white people' are killed by police and make it true

After months of Black Lives Matter protests and the topics of racism and police brutality in America taking centre stage, one might think that the president would have given the issue some thought.

But it seems Donald Trump has decided to avoid doing any research at all on the topic, and has instead chosen to use it as an opportunity to dog whistle to his supporters.

Just your standard Tuesday in 2020's White House.

In an interview with CBS News, he was asked – pretty reasonably – why African Americans are still dying at the hands of law enforcement in the United States.

His response, verbatim:

And so are white people. So are white people. What a terrible question to ask. So are white people. More white people, by the way! More white people!

See for yourself.

People were understandably furious with his response, which was essentially a version of "all lives matter".

But did he really just make this up or is there something even more refarious going on?

Let's take a look.

Why did he say this?

Possibly because he just didn't really have any other response. The correct answer ("because racism") wouldn't really be very on-brand for Donald "good-people-on-both-sides" Trump.

But while the president is known for his "alternative facts", we suspect he may have received information that confused him into making this statement.

Indeed, if you watch his face, he looks genuinely baffled by the question, rather than the usual look of arrogance and outrage he seems to reserve for when he's telling downright lies about everything from the size of his crowds to coronavirus testing.

It seems he actually thinks he's right. And there may be a reason for that.

According to Statista, in 2019 there were 1,004 people fatally shot by police in the US. White people made up 370 of these deaths, while 235 were Black people.

So technically, yes, more white people than Black people died at the hands of the police.

However, the same statistics show that 634 of these deaths were people classified as Black, Hispanic, "other" or "unknown". By these figures, only 36.8 per cent of fatal police shootings led to the death of a white person.

(In case you were wondering, this is pretty similar for 2017 and 2018, when the percentage of people shot to death identified as white was 46 per cent and 40 per cent respectively. So far in 2020, white-identified victims of fatal police shootings also make up 40 per cent of the total number).

So while it's true that white people are getting shot by the police, and by numbers it's more white people than Black people, this is an incredibly misleading snapshot of the actual situation.

And then there's the crucial issue...

Why his argument is completely wrong.

Even if you wanted to argue that technically his numbers are right (not that he offered any, we're just giving him the benefit of the doubt here), he's clearly either missing or completely ignoring the point:

According to the Census Bureau, Black people make up only around 13 per cent of the US population, while about 76 per cent of the country is white.

So even if we were to be extremely generous to the president's argument and assume 50 per cent of the people shot to death were white, it would still make white people much much less likely than Black people to have this happen to them.

This is not a complicated concept, but it does seem to be completely beyond the president's grasp.

Then again, it's not really surprising considering his constant misinterpretation of scientific facts in order to fit his agenda.

What's the truth?

That Black people are way more likely to be shot and killed by police than white people.

Looking at racial disparities in population and police shooting victims proves that if you're Black, you're two-and-a-half times more likely to be shot and killed by the police.

Put simply: for every 1 million Black people in America, 31 people will be shot and killed by police; for every 1 million white people, the number is 13.

Any number of people killed by police is too many, but it's disingenuous to suggest that there's no racial disparity here.

Of course, acknowledging that fact would mean accepting the reality of the institutional racism that leads to this happening, and that's really not something Trump wants to do...

Why is Trump suggesting otherwise?

It is genuinely possible (though terrifying) that he's unable to wrap his head around the simple concept of statistically proportional overrepresentation.

However it seems more likely that the reality just doesn't fit the narrative he wanted to spin.

In what will come as a surprise to pretty much no one, Pew Research determined that 88 per cent of people who voted for Trump in 2016 were white, while people of colour made up 40 per cent of Hillary Clinton's voters.

Trump's 2020 opponent Joe Biden may be even more popular with Black voters. Certainly, he was the frontrunner in that demographic among the credible candidates for the Democratic nomination.

Figures from last month show that 89 per cent of registered Black voters support Biden, while only 7 per cent support Trump.

So it stands to reason that Trump wouldn't be focussing on winning over the Black population which has largely always stood against him.

That said, one of the key difficulties Democrats face in elections is getting their supporters to go out and vote.

If enough BIPOC and allies are angry enough at the president to do so, this could have a real impact on his chances of winning.

In continuing to try to appease racist white people by twisting the figures to their benefit, Trump may be making a crucial error in judgement.

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