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Police shootings test Trump, Clinton’s resolve on deep U.S. divisions

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    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, left, speaks at a news conference at the Trump National Golf Club Westchester in Briarcliff Manor, N.Y. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a rally in Culver City, Calif. on June 3.

The shooting deaths of five Dallas police officers connected two of America’s most troubling domestic issues—race relations and gun violence—and are a reminder that Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will inherit problems the current president has struggled to solve.

The killings immediately forced the White House contenders to soften their tone. Both Clinton, a Democrat, and Trump, a Republican, canceled campaign events and released statements condemning the deaths and expressing condolence for the victims.

It’s unclear how long the break from harsh political attacks that have defined the presidential race will last, and whether either of the candidates—each of whom is saddled with high unfavorability ratings in a reflection of the electorate’s sour mood—would be capable of finding a middle ground to reach consensus.

Trump, who has struggled to find the right tone to unite a party split over his once-unlikely bid, decried the political divisions in the country. “This is a time, perhaps more than ever, for strong leadership, love and compassion,” Trump said.

“We must restore law and order,” Trump said. “Crime is harming too many citizens. Racial tensions have gotten worse, not better.”

Disagreements on race relations and guns have become firmly entrenched in the politics of the world’s most powerful nation.

Black voters are more likely to see race relations as a bigger problem, and they overwhelming support the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. While Clinton postponed a rally she had planned for Friday, she was still expected to attend a convention for the African Methodist Episcopal Church, a predominately black denomination.

Many Republicans are unwilling to give any ground to tighten the nation’s gun laws. Trump constantly uses the issue to excite the party’s base, inaccurately accusing Clinton of proposing to eliminate the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

More than a third of Americans said they worried “a great deal” about race relations in the U.S., according to a Gallup poll in April, which was higher than at any time since the polling firm first asked the question in 2001.

That poll showed that concern about race relations over the past two years increased among Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals, and blacks and whites. But the gap between the groups in some cases has widened: 53 percent of blacks said they were worried, compared to 27 percent of whites. That was up from the gap of 31 percent to 14 percent between blacks and whites in the 2012-2014 combined polls.

On gun laws, about 55 percent of non-white Americans support tighter control, a higher proportion that the rest of the country, according to a CNN poll in October. There’s also a gender gap on the issue: Women were split about evenly, 49 percent to 48 percent, on stricter laws, while men opposed stricter laws 56 percent to 42 percent.

In the 2016 election, while black voters side with Clinton by a large margin, whites more narrowly prefer Trump, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll conducted in June.

The disputes help explain why it’s been difficult to make progress on these issues for President Barack Obama.String of Deaths

In Dallas, Police Chief David Brown said Friday that one suspect in the attack said he was upset over the recent police shootings of black men and wanted to kill white people, according to the Associated Press.

Recent deaths in Minnesota and Louisiana—parts of which were captured on widely viewed videos—were the latest in a string of high-profile incidents in which white police officers have killed black men.

“The senseless, tragic deaths of two motorists in Louisiana and Minnesota reminds us how much more needs to be done,” Trump said in his statement about Dallas.

In 2015, riots erupted in Ferguson, Missouri, after 18-year old Michael Brown was killed by Darren Wilson, a 28-year-old white officer. A subsequent investigation by the Department of Justice found that the police department there had routinely violated the civil rights of black residents.

Protests also erupted in Baltimore after 25-year-old Freddie Gray died while being transported in a police van in Baltimore. That incident followed the 2012 killing of Trayvon Martin, who was shot by a mixed-race Hispanic man named George Zimmerman, and the death of Staten Island man Eric Garner, who died after being put in a chokehold by police. Video of that incident also went viral on the internet.Obama-Era Measures

Obama caused controversy early in his presidency when he said a Massachusetts officer “acted stupidly” when he arrested Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., who is black, in his Cambridge home. Obama has been criticized by some activists for not being more vocal about policing issues, particularly as the first black president of the U.S.

In recent years, Obama has met with leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement and spoken in detail about how he empathizes with blacks who are profiled. He said that if he had a son, he would look like Martin. Obama has also spoken about instances where he had been racially profiled before entering the public eye.

The Obama administration created a task force in response to the controversies, and the president has urged local police forces to implement new guidelines drafted by the Justice Department to improve community relations. He’s also advocated the adoption of body cameras by police officers, and encouraged cities to be more open with data about police and race.

The 11-member task force created by Obama after the high- profile police killings in New York and Ferguson recommended steps it said could help police departments repair frayed relationships with minority communities.

Among the 59 recommendations released by the panel were guidelines suggesting restrictions on the kinds of physical force used against “vulnerable populations” such as children and disabled people; hiring diverse police forces; and using body cameras to document interactions with police. The report also recommends limiting the use of riot gear, which police in Ferguson donned as they confronted protesters, and suggested new rules—subsequently adopted by the Obama administration—governing the transfer of certain military equipment to local police departments.

The administration also recommended departments collect and publicize demographic information about people they stop or arrest.

The president has asked Congress or a three-year, $263 million community policing package that includes $75 million, along with matching funds from local governments, to supply as many as 50,000 body-worn cameras for officers. Last year, the Justice Department announced it was awarding $23 million in funding to law enforcement agencies across 32 states as a pilot program to examine the impact of body cameras.

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  • “God bless America, land that I love
    Stand beside her and guide her
    Through the night with light from above….”
    Sometimes we need to be reminded how much we love our country! How much we need HIS guidance!

    • With love that many show for this country by shooting blacks for minor infractions, who needs hatred. Actually many do not love this country regardless of what they say when they accept police killings. Blow back will result. If you want to stop these killings, stop police from killing minorities and getting away with it.

      • Peter (Boots), it’s best to give pause until all the facts on the two shooting are in. Most of the past police shootings have been adjudicated in favor of the Police. Peter, minorities with police records must not carry weapons in confrontation with police and we will reduce the death of minorities. And, of course Hope and Change has made the racial problem worst, not better.

        • My God, are you a pinko commie? We have a second amendment which protects a person’s right to bear arms. So minorities, with or without records have a right to carry weapons. Now he might be wrong but one suspect in the attack said he was upset over the recent police shootings of black men and wanted to kill white people.

          I think this is commonly referred to blow back. Want to end it? Stop cops from killing blacks and other minorities!

      • “If you want to stop these killings, stop police from killing minorities and getting away with it.” If you, with so much “passion” cannot execute your own view how do you expect others to follow your suggestion? You should run for President and you can subdue democracy, guide her with your “love and passion” to become an America of your dreams! Good luck!

      • With comments like that boots you may be rushing to judgement without due process. A word of caution. Perhaps the cops used bad judgement but a lot of you are willing to put a lady into the WH with bad judgement and is dishonest.

      • If black lives really mattered to the politicians these people would be living productive lives. I see them onTV and quite frankly some of them appear unemployable. In the State of Georgia, women get benefits if they can prove gestation. The more babies they have the better quality of life. There is no incentive but to make more babies.
        We have our homeless problem but nothing like the black lives matter problem. Opining and protesting does nothing.
        Obama had almost 8 years to solve this problem. Some pundits say he made it worse. I agree only because as POTUS he could have fixed the problem.
        If you want Hillary I’m fine with that. We should not bombast another’s opinion.

      • Recently an unarmed18-year-old University of South Alabama student, Gil Collar, was shot and killed by a campus police officer.
        The police officer was black. Where’s the outrage. Where’s the White Lives Matters.
        Where’s the bsdetection.

  • Trump needs to stop playing games and to stop making some poorly educated men hysterical about race. He is just a tv entertainer and failed businessman who is delighted with how easy it is to whip up hatred. Republicans with any integrity left need to renounce him.

      • Keonigohan, all the Republicans and trump are praying for the all the victims of this cop killing spree. Yet they will do nothing to control the access and proliferation of guns. The racist people like Trump want more guns, but the people who are against Trump and the racists are also getting more guns. The hatred preached by Trump toward minorities, is getting blowback from the anger and frustration of those attacked by Trump and his supporters. That’s what happened last night. Racism and bigotry works both ways.

        • I think Obama and Hilary will soon propose to take all the guns away from cops. That will address the problem with the police and will not involve the 2nd amendment. Hilary will probably just do it as a Presidential Order. Any cities that allow their cops to have guns will not be eligible for any Federal money. Certainly if all the black people have guns, as they do now, and none of the cops have guns, the issue of belligerent cops and use of excessive force will be solved.

        • Clinton is playing the race and sex card. Every coffee shop meeting is staged. She puts the African Americans and Latinos in full display of the cameras. Or haven’t you noticed.
          She’s so phony it’s almost funny. She’s the racist, the bigot, the liar and she has poor judgement to boot.
          As far as denominator if you send an unarmed cop to protect him against an armed offender the cop isn’t going to show up. Denom is on his own.

    • I don’t think you can blame the Donald for this. What needs to happen is for cops to stop resorting to deadly force when dealing with Blacks and other minorities.

    • Allie, your post is the foundation and birth of Mr. Trump. He is the creation of your beliefs and actions. Think about it. The more you attack him the stronger he gets, and he may become “our” President of the United States.

      • This makes little sense. Allie is hardly responsible for the popularity of the Donald within the republican party. The American people cannot be that dumb to elect a person with zero political experience and a lack of knowledge about our constitution to become president.

        • What astounds me, that all the fear, paronoia, and bigotry espoused by Trump has the support of a large number of people in the Republican Party, Tea Party, Evangelical Christians, Klu Klux Klan, White Supremacists, Neo Nazi Party and other right wing fringe groups. It is a serious moral and spiritual sickness that infects Trump and all these groups, who have no empathy, respect, and compassion for others with different beliefs, race and ethnicity

        • Vector, what astounds me is that the Donald was the best candidate running on the republican side. Close to 20 candidates and the Donald is the best? How strange is that?

          Just be thankful that Ted Cruz didn’t come up with the nomination.

        • Peter (Boots), Mr. Trump approved to have Mr. Cruz speak at the National Convention. Most important, Mr. Trump will have Mr. Cruz assist in the nomination of the Justices to the U.S. Supreme Court. This is outstanding.

        • Peter (Boots), Allie, you, and the DNC constant and similar talking points message is the steel and concrete in the foundation of Mr. Trumps campaign. Can’t you see that. A bright gentlemen like you can clearly see the strategy of Mr. Trump.

  • both of these people have no credibility. Nobody is going to listen to them which will cause the spiral down to the eventual demise of this country.

  • “When incidents like this occur, there’s a big chunk of our fellow citizenry that feels as if it’s because of the color of their skin, they are not being treated the same,” Obama said.

    there he goes again, playing the race card.

    but, it’s hiliar that was chief advocate for “bringing to heel” inner city black youths she called “super predators” who had “no conscience, no empathy, . . . ”

    it was hiliar who rallied for increased arrests and extended sentencing for these “super predators.”

    a real racist, takes action to remove the personal freedoms of those she fears. hiliar, a real racist, manipulated the public’s fear and intentionally caused a bill to be passed that punished black youths with increased arrests and extended sentencing. that’s how a real racist acts.

      • Only if they are white? Why do cops seem to kill so many blacks over minor infractions? America can never be great if its police force is allowed to kill blacks over imaginary fears.

        • Imaginary? The police called in to report that they were going to make a stop because the victim resembled an armed robbery suspect. They may have evidence the guy had a gun on his lap and a statement from the girlfriend that he told the police he had a permit to carry. He went to reach for what? Maybe scratch his balls? The victim had a history of priors. Maybe you should not rush to judgement.

    • No Obama is not playing the race card. He is just stating a fact. Too many cops are filled with imaginary fears and are quick to resort to shooting blacks and other minorities. This needs to end.

      It wasn’t only Hillary who rallied for increased arrests etc. of blacks. Republicans did a wonderful job of fueling imaginary fears against blacks for decades.

  • Where is the NRA? I assume the NRA supports these shootings? After all one suspect said he was motivated by police shootings of black men and wanted to kill white people I assume for revenge. Isn’t this part of the second amendment? To fight back against an oppressive government? Come on NRA, where is your defense of the right to bear arms?

  • Back to the Future; the 1960s all over again. Great job, Obama. If he’s not at least partially responsible, then it’s not that big a deal who our president is since he/she can say whatever, do nothing, and take no responsibility.

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