Donald Trump Says Drugs Are a "Very, Very Big Factor" in Police Protests

Trump told a crowd in Pittsburgh Thursday that "drugs" are a "very, very big factor" in protests including Charlotte.

Donald Trump

Donald Trump in New York 2016.

Donald Trump

Donald Trump has seemingly blamed the ongoing unrest in Charlotte and other cities across the nation surrounding the police killing of Keith Lamont Scott on unnamed "drugs," without offering evidence. Trump made the assertion while apparently going off script during a speech in Pittsburgh Thursday, with ABC Newsreporting he told the Shale Insight 2016 Conference that police officers have "tough" jobs while condemning protests.

"If you're not aware, drugs are a very, very big factor in what you're watching on television at night," Trump said Thursday. Elsewhere in the speech, Trump mourned the lack of "control" over American cities. "Our country looks bad to the world, especially when we are supposed to be the world's leader," Trump said. "How can we lead when we can't even control our own cities? We honor and recognize the right of all Americans to peacefully assemble, protest and demonstrate, but there is no right to engage in violent disruption or to threaten the public safety and peace of others."

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Though Trump did not reference or otherwise specifically acknowledge the underlying issue of police brutality, he did have words of support for police officers. "Police are entrusted with immense responsibility, and we must do everything we can to ensure that they are properly trained, that they respect all members of the public and that any wrongdoing is always—and it will be by them—vigorously addressed," Trump said.

Many have interpreted Trump's remarks on "drugs" being a "big factor" to be a direct reference to the protests in Charlotte, though Trump's campaign manager Kellyanne Conway clarified to the New York Times later Thursday that getting specific wasn't part of the plan. "He wasn't talking about Charlotte specifically," Conway said. "As he has done in many different venues on many different occasions, he is addressing a major concern that authorities and moms all across the country are raising with him, which is indiscriminate drug use and opiate addiction."

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Thursday proved particularly rocky for the Trump campaign, as a (now former) campaign chair from Ohio was filmed telling a Guardian reporter that racism didn't exist before Obama. "I don't think there was any racism until Obama got elected," Kathy Miller, who chaired the Mahoning County campaign, said. "We never had problems like this. I'm in the real estate industry. There's none." Miller later resigned.

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