Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both responded to the death of Terence Crutcher over recent days. Upon seeing the video, both candidates expressed regret over his death. Although both Clinton and Trump concede that this particular instance was a tragedy, the candidates have very different understandings of the underlying issues behind police brutality.
Trump, when asked about the shooting of Crutcher at close range, with hands up in the air, stated that his death was very troubling.
“He looked like somebody who was doing what they were asking him to do. And this young officer, I don’t know what she was thinking, I don’t know what she was thinking. It’s very troubling,” said Trump.
In the next breath, Trump lauded police officers, while admitting that, at times, they do not always make the best decisions. “They’re great people, great people. Now great people, you always have problems. You have somebody in there that either makes a mistake that’s bad or that chokes,” Trump said.
Clearly, Trump does not recognize the systemic issue of police violence–it is not that the officer choked; rather, it is more likely that the officer gave in to implicit bias against her victim and shot a man who had done nothing wrong. Trump should not attribute this to an officer “choking,” for this description obscures the deeper problems at the Tulsa Police Department that made this officer think that shooting an unarmed black man would be acceptable.
As for Clinton, during her interview on The Steve Harvey Morning Show, she chose to speak “directly to white people.”
“We’ve got to do everything possible to improve policing, to go right at implicit bias. We’ve gotta tackle the systemic racism. In Tulsa? An unarmed man? With his hands in the air? I mean, this is just unbearable and it needs to be intolerable.”
Clinton suggested that law enforcement needed to do more to work with communities. “We have got to rein in what is absolutely inexplicable, and we’ve got to have law enforcement respect communities and communities respect law enforcement because they have to work together. We’ve gotta change laws to protect people, to protect everything about them, and we’ve got to be a clear and loud voice for our society being what it should be: the city on the hill striving for the more perfect union.”
Clinton certainly acknowledges the deeper issues behind officer related shootings of unarmed black people. It is also good to see a candidate address the whole of America, particularly white America when discussing these problems. Of course, it remains to be seen whether Clinton will make good on these discussions, if she is elected president. We must remember her words now, and be sure to hold her accountable if she wins this November.
Photo Credits: CNN, Getty Images