PITTSBURGH — Donald Trump on Thursday weighed in on the unrest and violence in Charlotte, North Carolina, in the wake of the fatal police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott, calling it another sign that America needs "unity" and using it as an example of why "we need a national anti-crime agenda to make our cities safe again."
Trump said that the violence, broadcast the past two nights live on cable news, makes America "look bad to the world, especially when we're supposed to the world's leader." He also blamed drugs as "a very, very big factor in what you're watching on television at night," though it's unclear if Trump meant to directly link this observation with the situation in Charlotte.
While Trump addressed the chaotic protests in North Carolina's biggest city, he did not mention Scott's shooting, which set off the unrest.
"How can we lead when we can't even control our own cities?" Trump said at the Shale Insight Coalition conference here, where he was set to give a speech about his energy plan. The Republican nominee went on to say he recognized the right of the people to assemble, protest, and demonstrate but that people have "no right" to violently disrupt or threaten the peace and safety of others.
Trump added that "our job is not to make life more comfortable for the violent disruptor, but to make life more comfortable for the African-American parent trying to raise their kids in peace, to walk their children to school, and to get their children great educations. We have to cherish and protect those people."
The comments come as Trump simultaneously tries to reach out to black voters and advocate for the highly controversial policing policy of stop and frisk that involves police searching and questioning pedestrians.
Thursday morning, before taking the stage in Pennsylvania, Trump told Fox News that cities like Chicago - a place he often mentions for its high incidents of gun violence - would benefit from the stop and frisk policy. "Now people can criticize me for that or people can say whatever they want, but they asked me about Chicago and I think stop and frisk with good strong, you know, good strong law and order, but you have to do something, it can't continue the way it's going," he said.
Trump advocated for "a national anti-crime agenda to make our cities safe again."
The GOP nominee spoke first on the police shootings of Scott in Charlotte and an unarmed Tulsa motorist, Terence Crutcher, on Wednesday at a black church in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. Of the Tulsa case, Trump said Wednesday that he saw the video of the shooting and called it "troubling." He wondered if the female officer who shot Crutcher "choked" in that instance, one of the few times Trump has been specifically critical of officer's actions in these shooting cases.
On Thursday in Pennsylvania, Trump pushed for more law enforcement and community engagement to keep our country safe. He allowed that officers must be "properly trained" and advocated for any wrongdoing to he "vigorously addressed."
Still, Trump maintained his pro-police position and called members of law enforcement the line that separates citizens from "chaos," as well as those on the "front lines of defense in the war on terror," as evidenced by the work done by cops and investigators after last weekend's attacks in NY, NJ, and MN.
"I mean, who could do that?" Trump said at the energy conference. "That's tougher than finding oil, I will tell you."