In front of a nearly all-white crowd in a nearly all-white town on Tuesday, Donald Trump decided it was a good time to make his pitch to black voters. But he did it in a particularly strange way: He said Democrats were lying about racism in American police departments, and argued that police don’t discriminate against black people at all.
The Daily Show host Trevor Noah couldn’t believe it. "So wait. Donald Trump is implying that the only reason black communities feel oppressed isn’t because of their experiences. No, it’s because of the Democrats who have tricked them," he said. "Like before that, black people didn’t know what was happening to them? Like black people were surprised when Democrats came and [were] like, ‘Wait, what? This is oppression? Oh, I thought the officer was massaging me with his nightstick! Oh, I didn’t know! Why thank you, Mr. Democrat.’"
To disprove Trump’s claim, Noah pulled out the recent Justice Department report on the Baltimore Police Department — the result of an investigation that found a police force that failed at essentially every part of its job, from basic stops to solving cases.
Noah pointed to several particular findings:
- The Baltimore Police Department targeted and disproportionately stopped black residents for stops, searches, and arrests — sometimes with orders like, "Lock up all the black hoodies."
- One black man in his mid-50s was stopped 30 times in less than four years, typically for small crimes like loitering or trespassing. He was never found to be doing anything wrong.
- During a ride-along with Justice Department officials, a sergeant told a patrol officer to stop a group of young black men. The officer protested, saying he had no valid reason for the stop. The sergeant responded, "Then make something up" — again, in the middle of a ride-along with federal investigators.
- During one stop, police ordered a woman into a strip and anal cavity search in full view of the street. The officers found no evidence of any wrongdoing.
- One template for police arrests, provided by a shift commander, automatically included "black male" in the description of the arrest.
"So next time someone tells you the narrative of racial bias in policing is made up, maybe you can use this template," Noah said, pointing to a template on the screen. "What you do is fill in the date, the place where it happened, and the name of the person who dismissed your racial claim. Oh, and then there’s one field that we can prefill — because the person who’s telling you this, they’re always a jackass."