Trump says stop-and-frisk police tactics needed in high crime areas
Trump made his latest pitch to woo African-American voters Wednesday
U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in remarks at an African-American church on Wednesday praised "stop-and-frisk" policing methods, which have aroused protests and successful legal challenges on grounds they single out minorities.
The anti-crime tactic, which involves police officers stopping, questioning and searching pedestrians for weapons or contraband, gained traction in New York City under the administration of Mayor Rudy Giuliani, now a top Trump supporter.
But opposition to the practice led police departments in New York, as well as Chicago and Newark, N.J., to agree to cut back on its use, in some cases submitting to outside monitoring and improving police training.
"I would do stop-and-frisk. I think you have to," Trump said, according to excerpts of a Fox News "town hall" in Cleveland after an audience member asked what he would do to reduce crime in predominantly black communities across the nation.
"I see what's going on here, I see what's going on in Chicago, I think stop-and-frisk. In New York City it was so incredible, the way it worked," Trump said.
Ending the practice in New York was a key plank of Democrat Bill de Blasio's successful 2013 run for mayor.
With the race tightening between Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton ahead of the Nov. 8 election, he has been reaching out to African-American voters, who opinion polls show largely favor Clinton.
Trump has portrayed himself as the "law-and-order candidate." But Clinton has criticized many of his proposals as unconstitutional attacks on American freedoms.
The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment about his statement, nor did Clinton's.
- NYPD stop-and-frisk 'receipts' get cold reception on streets
- Department of Justice damns Baltimore police tactics in report
'We are victims'
Anger over police tactics has escalated as fatal police encounters with African-Americans, many of them unarmed, have sparked protests and unrest in communities across the country. In his appeal to African-American voters, Trump has lamented the woes of black communities and invited people who traditionally vote Democratic to take a chance on him.
- Tulsa motorist with stalled car fatally shot by police
- State of emergency declared in Charlotte after protests over shooting
But his often dire portrayals of life for African-Americans have fallen flat with some black voters.
Connie Tucker, a pastor at Father Heart Ministries in Columbus, Ohio, said she liked policies that yielded results, so if stop-and-frisk helped reduce crime, she was for it. But Tucker, who is white, said she sensed discomfort in the room at Trump's answer.
"I felt like there was a pause," she said. Geoff Betts, 38, who was also in the crowd at the town hall event and who is black, said he felt dismayed by Trump's response.
Betts, a distributor of hair products, said he was registered to vote as an independent and attended the town hall because he was curious about what Trump would say to try to win over black voters. He said he thought police unfairly discriminated against black citizens and that he opposed stop-and-frisk.
"We are victims," he said, adding he walked out of the town hall while it was still under way.
"I just couldn't take it anymore, I had to go," he said. "I don't think that Donald Trump gets it."
Expediency with Obama birthplace?
Meanwhile, Trump said in a brief interview with an Ohio television station on Wednesday he finally admitted President Barack Obama was born in the United States because he wanted to "get on with the campaign."
Trump was asked why, after years as the chief proponent of the falsehood that the president was born outside the country, he decided to announce Friday that was no longer the case.
What had changed his mind?
"Well, I just wanted to get on with, you know, we want to get on with the campaign," the GOP nominee responded.
"And a lot of people were asking me questions. And you know, we want to talk about jobs, we want to talk about the military," he added. "We want to talk about ISIS and how to get rid of ISIS. We want to really talk about bringing jobs back to this area because you've been decimated. So we really want to get just back onto the subject of jobs, military, taking care of our vets, et cetera."
Trump for five years had raised questions and insinuations about the president's birthplace and the authenticity of his birth certificate. The so-called "birther" movement helped fuel Trump's political rise, transforming him from a reality television star into a popular political figure in some Republican circles.
Clinton's campaign said in a statement that Trump's answer was proof that he had only voiced his reversal to try to change the subject.
"After spending five years championing a conspiracy theory to undermine our first African American President, Donald Trump hasn't actually changed his mind," spokesman Jesse Ferguson said in a statement. "He only gave his 36-second press statement last week to try to change the subject — and it didn't work."
With files from The Associated Press