President Trump Talks Systemic Racism in Policing During Sinclair Town Hall

Donald Trump

Donald Trump

The president said that while police needed greater respect from Americans, "there always is [systemic racism] and that's a shame."

President Donald Trump asserted that American policing suffers from systemic racism during a town hall with Sinclair Broadcasting Group on Wednesday.

When asked by town hall host and America This Week host Eric Bolling (a Fox News alum) whether there is "systemic racism within police departments and any sort of retraining they need" during Monday's event, Trump responded, "That's always the question you've gotta ask. And I guess, there probably is and that's very sad."

He later appeared to say that there is indeed systemic racism in policing: "There is, and I think there's not much, or hopefully, there's not much," he said. The president then pointed out "a lot of our police departments are made up of Hispanic Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans. Really, it's not like it was 20, 25 years ago." He added, "But I guess there always is [systemic racism] and that's a shame."

The remark followed up on several comments Trump made about Americans needing to respect police officers earlier, while taking questions from socially-distanced audience members at the White House's Rose Garden. "Look, our police officers have to be able to do their job... they're afraid to do anything nowadays. They have to be able to do their jobs," he said in response to a question from a former Maryland officer who said the current perception of police officers is leading some to quit.

At one point, he responded to another audience member's question about what he would do for inner-city Black Americans during a second presidential term by suggesting that crime in Baltimore could in part be solved by "stronger policing."

Former pro football player Brett Favre also appeared at the town hall in a prerecorded message to ask the president about anti-racism in sports. He asked Trump, “My question is the NBA and the NFL are struggling with lower ratings, as fans clearly do not want political messaging mixed with their sports. So, how should the leagues support and promote an anti-racism position without becoming political and alienating fans?"

Trump responded, "People don’t want to see all of the politics. They've got enough politics with me and with everybody else. And they don’t want to see it with football or sports on Sunday or whenever they happen to be watching. I think it’s had a huge impact on sports, a huge negative impact on sports... And if people want to protest they can. But they shouldn't be protesting on the sidelines during the football game, especially when they’re making $10 million a year for something they’d be doing anyway for free if they weren’t in the league or the NFL or in the NBA."

He added, "People don’t want to see it. And they want to have these players stand and salute or put their hand over their heart or at least stand for the National Anthem and salute. They want to respect the American flag. They want respect for our country. They want respect for the American flag."

What are major sports leagues going to have to do to regain Trump's fandom, Bolling asked? "Well, they're going to have to start respecting their country, it's very simple. And they start by respecting their flag. And a lot of people agree with me."

Watch the full town hall below.