Donald Trump has refused to answer a question about police violence against black people, and instead claimed “more white people” are killed by officers in the US than African Americans.
The US president was being interviewed by CBS reporter Catherine Herridge on Tuesday when he was asked why black people are still dying at the hands of law enforcement.
“So are white people. So are white people. What a terrible question to ask. So are white people,” Trump responded.
“More white people, by the way. More white people.”
According to a Washington Post investigation and database tracking US deaths at the hands of police, white people make up around half the annual figure, while black Americans account for 24% of those fatally shot and killed by the police.
But it also notes that the Census Bureau estimates that African Americans make up about 13% of the US population, while 76% is white, meaning black people are around 2.5 times as likely as white Americans to be shot and killed by police officers in the country.
Also in the interview, Mr Trump defended the use of the Confederate flag as a mark of “freedom of speech”.
More from Black Lives Matter
Black Lives Matter protester statue that secretly replaced Edward Colston in Bristol ‘not expected to remain’
Quinton Fortune: Team-mate’s racist abuse was ‘lowest point of my life’
Lewis Hamilton hopes F1 drivers’ understanding of taking a knee grows
Stephen Curry says successful black people can be viewed as ‘anomalies’
Wilfried Zaha demands ‘action’ on racist abuse as arrested boy, 12, is released under investigation
Sheffield United investigate after David McGoldrick is racially abused
The flag is a hugely divisive symbol in the US. Some of the population argue it represents heritage, while others point towards its association with slavery and its use by white supremacists.
“I know people that like the Confederate flag and they’re not thinking about slavery,” Mr Trump said.
“I look at NASCAR, you go to NASCAR, you had those flags all over the place, they stopped it. I just think it’s freedom of speech – whether its Confederate flags, or Black Lives Matter, or anything else you want to talk about – it’s freedom of speech.”
:: Listen to Divided States on Apple podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and Spreaker
The president’s reference to NASCAR pointed to the association’s decision in June to ban Confederate flags at its events.
It came after the only black driver in the top series called for change following the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis in May.
Mr Trump has made a number of recent moves to protect Confederate monuments across the US after they became targets of protests sparked after Mr Floyd’s death.
He signed an executive order in June to protect federal monuments, and threatened action against Congress should its annual defence authorisation bill suggest changing the names of military bases named after Confederate commanders.