President Trump took aim at Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York City’s recent shooting surge during Tuesday night’s ABC town hall in Philadelphia before vehemently defending law enforcement, arguing that police should be “allowed to do their job” in Democrat-led areas around the country.
“If you’re going to stop crime, we have to give the respect back to the police that they deserve. They’ve done a fantastic job in so many locations, but then bad things happen,” Trump said at the socially distanced event at the National Constitution Center in Philadephia moderated by George Stephanopoulos.
“Look at New York. New York was a very safe city. Rudy Giuliani did a fantastic job. The city was safe, and then all of a sudden we have a mayor who starts cutting the police force and crime is up 100 percent, 150 percent. I saw one form of crime up 300 percent,” Trump said, referring to de Blasio.
Since the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, viewed as the catalyst for a national reckoning on racial injustice and police brutality, de Blasio has enacted a number of police reforms in New York City, including defunding $1 billion out of the NYPD’s annual $6 billion budget. In a dig to the president, he also skipped the city’s permit process and personally joined in painting a Black Lives Matter mural across the span of Fifth Avenue in front of Manhattan’s Trump Tower.
According to the latest NYPD citywide crime statistics, there was a 166% increase in the number of shooting incidents across New York City in August 2020 compared to the same month last year. There was a 47% spike in murders in August compared to August 2019.
The Washington Post took issue with Trump’s contrast between Giuliani, a Republican, and de Blasio, a Democrat, writing that: “There has been a jump in murders in 2020, but the annual number of murders under de Blasio has been about half as high as it was in Giuliani’s best year, according to FactCheck.org.” De Blasio was elected mayor of New York City in 2013.
Trump's remarks were in response to a question from Laura Galvas, a registered nurse who’s always voted for a Republican president in the key battleground state of Pennsylvania. Beginning by quoting Martin Luther King Jr., she asked whether Trump believed racial injustices are still occurring in the U.S. in the light of the deaths of Floyd, as well as Breonna Taylor and Jacob Blake.
“Well, I think they were tragic events, and I do feel that we have to also take into consideration that, if you look at our police, they do a phenomenal job. You’ll have people choke, make mistakes, and they happen... it happens, where they have to make a fast decision and some bad things happen,” Trump responded, adding that though there are “bad apples,” most law enforcement are “great people.”
Trump was endorsed by New York City's Police Benevolent Association, the city’s largest police union, in August, as well as by several other police departments around the county.
“Now the problem is that in Democrat, usually liberal Democrat-run cities, we have tremendous problems,” Trump said. “The top 10 most unsafe cities are run by Democrats. You go into the top 25 and top 35, almost every one of them is run by Democrats. No cash bail, just weak policies on crime. We have to give police the respect they deserve. And, we have to give them their mojo."
The president then referenced the recent ambush shooting of two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies in an unprovoked attack while they were sitting in their patrol car. Both were seriously injured and underwent surgery while protesters outside the hospital chanted: “We hope they die.”
“That’s a lack of respect. When somebody can do that, that’s a lack of respect. There’s no retribution in the field. There’s no retribution,” Trump said Tuesday night. “This guy walks up to a police car, and he starts shooting point-blank range at two innocent people. You can’t let that happen. You have to, you have to be very tough crime when it comes to things like that.”
Trump also advocated for bringing in the National Guard to metropolitan areas like Portland, which has been overrun by violent nightly demonstrations for nearly three months.