KENANSVILLE, N.C — Donald Trump on Tuesday escalated his rhetoric on the state of America's minority communities, telling a crowd that "places like Afghanistan are safer" than some U.S. inner cities.
"We're going to rebuild our inner cities because our African-American communities are absolutely in the worst shape that they've ever been in before. Ever, ever, ever," Trump assessed. "You take a look at the inner cities, you get no education, you get no jobs, you get shot walking down the street."
"Honestly, places like Afghanistan are safer than some of our inner cities," he added.
It was not clear what statistics Trump was using to back up his comparison to Afghanistan, which has been torn apart by decades of war. According to the United Nations, 5,166 civilians were killed or maimed there during the first six months of the year — the highest number since 2009.
The image of dangerous inner cities is one Trump has conjured many times at rallies and in speeches over recent weeks in his attempt to court minority voters, along with his now infamous final pitch: What do you have to lose by voting Trump?
Generally, Trump ticks down a list of problems faced by black Americans — lack of access to quality education, need for safety, a dearth of jobs — and promises he can fix it. Trump's image of black communities, however, tends to hyperbolize the black experience in America and plays into stereotypes about the experience of African Americans in the United States that does not match the reality.
There has been an uptick in crime in the U.S. — violent crime in American cities is expected to rise by 5.5 percent in 2016, according to New York University's Brennan Center. Half of the increase is driven by Los Angeles — up 13 percent — and Chicago, up 16 percent. But violent crime has been significantly reduced since the 1980s and 1990s, according to FBI statistics, and is lower today than when President Obama took office.
According to Trump — and some polls that show him making small inroads among the African-American voting bloc — his outreach efforts are working.
"I think it's resonating because you see what's happening with my poll numbers with African-Americans," Trump said. "They're going, like, high."
An ABC/Washington Post poll average from August and September shows Trump increasing his support among African Americans to 5 percent. Prior polls, including NBC/WSJ, showed Trump at 0 or 1 percent among African Americans.
Though he spent time Thursday trying to appeal to communities of color, Trump did not react at either of his public rallies Tuesday to the recent police shooting of an unarmed black male in Tulsa, Oklahoma — who had his hands up.
While the scene sounds similar to one of Trump's frequent refrains of getting "shot walking down the street," but not once did the GOP nominee speak to the latest example of an epidemic of police violence against men of color.
Trump's main rival, Hillary Clinton, however, spoke out on the issue early Tuesday morning. "We've got to tackle systemic racism," Clinton said of Terence Crutcher's killing to Steve Harvey on his radio show. "This horrible shooting again, how many times do we have to see this in our country? In Tulsa, an unarmed man with his hands in the air, I mean this is just unbearable and it needs to be intolerable." She later echoed the sentiment in a tweet signed "-H."
Trump has instead continued to rail against Democrats who he feels have run America's cities into poverty and despair. "The inner cities have been run for many years by Democrats and it's the same old thing," Trump said. "They want your vote and then they say, 'See ya, goodbye. I'll see you in four years.' Hillary Clinton is an example of it."