By Lauren Victoria Burke (NNPA News Wire Contributor)
During a campaign speech in Wisconsin, Trump appealed to African American voters offering an alternative to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
“Hillary Clinton has had her chance. She failed,” said Trump. “Now it’s time for new leadership.”
After the speech, Trump conducted a shakeup that installed Breitbart News CEO Steve Bannon as a frontline advisor to his campaign.
The speech in West Bend, Wis., where the Black population is less than 7 percent statewide, comes only three weeks after Trump declined to speak at the NAACP’s annual convention in Cincinnati, the National Urban League’s annual convention in Baltimore, and most recently, the National Association of Black Journalists convention in Washington, D.C.
Still, Trump maintained that it is the Democratic Party that “has taken the votes of African-Americans for granted.”
Trump said that Democrats just assumed that Blacks would support the party and haven’t done anything to earn Black votes.
“It’s time to give the Democrats some competition for these votes, and it’s time to rebuild the inner cities of America – and to reject the failed leadership of a rigged political system,” said Trump. “The problem in our poorest communities is not that there are too many police, the problem is that there are not enough police.”
Trump’s speech suggests that, as a president, the New York businessman may push even more punitive justice reform policies in the U.S., a country that leads the world in incarceration with over 2.2 million people behind bars.
Trump also said that Clinton was directly responsible for the recent unrest in Milwaukee and “and many other places within our country” and claimed that Clinton was “against the police.”
Protesters marched in Milwaukee last weekend following the shooting death of Sylville Smith as he fled from police. Smith was armed with a handgun and failed to comply with commands to drop his weapon, according to Milwaukee police. CNN reported that, “at least six businesses were torched, cars were burned and four officers injured,” in violent clashes with police. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett set a 10 p.m. curfew for residents younger than 18 years-old.
Trump said that the violence and destruction that occurred in Milwaukee following the recent police shooting was an assault on the right of all citizens to live in security and peace.
“I am asking for the vote of every African-American citizen struggling in our country today who wants a different future,” said Trump in his Wisconsin speech. “It is time for our society to address some honest and very difficult truths.”
Trump continued: “The Democratic Party has failed and betrayed the African-American community. Democratic crime policies, education policies, and economic policies have produced only more crime, more broken homes, and more poverty.
Law and order must be restored. It must be restored for the sake of all, but most especially the sake of those living in the affected communities,” Trump said in West Bend.
Trump’s speech was reminiscent of the “law and order” rhetoric used by Richard Nixon and George Wallace in late 1960s and early 1970s and later by Ronald Reagan, coded language used to talk about the suppression of Black protests and unrest spurred by the fight for civil rights.
The Republican nominee’s speech arrives less than a week after the Department of Justice released a detailed and shocking report on the behavior of members of the Baltimore Police Department. Trump made no reference to the report, during his speech.
Trump also alleged that bad international trade deals that Hillary Clinton supported led to the decline in manufacturing jobs and an increase in Black unemployment.
The poverty rate for Wisconsin’s Black residents was 39 percent and poverty rate for Whites living in the state was 11 percent, according to researchers from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Nationally, the poverty rate for Blacks was 27.4 percent, compared to a 9.9 percent poverty rate for Whites.
Trump called for school choice, merit pay for teachers and a massive tax cut for workers and small businesses. He also said that he would renegotiate NAFTA and “stand up to China.”
The reality show star turned Republican presidential nominee promised, “to support more police in our communities, appoint the best prosecutors and judges in the country” and to “pursue strong enforcement of federal laws.”
Trump added: “To every lawbreaker hurting innocent people in this country, I say: your free reign will soon come crashing to an end.”
Lauren Victoria Burke is a political analyst who speaks on politics and African American leadership. She can be contacted at LBurke007@gmail.com and on twitter at @LVBurke.