PITTSBURGH (Pennsylvania) • Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has praised aggressive police tactics and condemned attacks on officers amid criticism of his plan to use "stop-and-frisk"tactics to reduce crime, in a speech following a second night of unrest that shook Charlotte, North Carolina.
Mr Trump said drugs were "a very, very big factor" in urban unrest and those suffering the most from the violence were "law-abiding African-American residents who live in these communities".
"Crime and violence is an attack on the poor and will never be accepted in a Trump administration," he told an energy conference in Pittsburgh on Thursday, as a room full of natural gas and coal industry executives listened in silence. "The violence against our citizens, and our law enforcement, must be brought to an end."
Mr Trump has portrayed himself as the "law-and-order" candidate. Stop-and-frisk, in which police stop, question and search pedestrians for weapons or contraband, has drawn protests and successful legal challenges because it is seen as unfairly targeting minorities.
At the same time, Mr Trump recently reached out to African- American voters as the gap in many opinion polls has narrowed between him and his Democratic rival, Mrs Hillary Clinton, ahead of the Nov 8 presidential election.
Mrs Clinton, who did not immediately respond to Mr Trump's remarks on Thursday, has pushed for stricter gun controls to help rein in gun violence and called for national guidelines on the use of force by police officers.
CRACKING THE WHIP
Crime and violence is an attack on the poor and will never be accepted in a Trump administration. The violence against our citizens, and our law enforcement, must be brought to an end.
MR DONALD TRUMP
Mr Trump said Mrs Clinton shares responsibility for "the unrest that is afflicting our country".
"Those peddling the narrative of cops as a racist force in our society - and this is a narrative that is supported with a nod by my opponent, you see what she's saying, and it's not good - share responsibility and the unrest that is afflicting our country and hurting those who have really the very least," the mogul said.
Mr Trump, a New York businessman, also called for better training of police and more community engagement. "If you're not aware, drugs are a very, very big factor in what you're watching on television at night," he said. "My administration will work with local communities and local officials to make the reduction of crime a top priority."
Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said later in a statement that Mr Trump's comments were not referring "specifically" to the violence in Charlotte, but "addressing a major concern that authorities and mums across the country are raising with him, which is indiscriminate drug use and opiate addiction".
The fatal police shooting of a black man sparked the protests in Charlotte, and a state of emergency was declared on Wednesday. There have also been protests in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in recent days after a fatal police shooting of an unarmed black man who, a video shows, had his hands in clear view at the time. A white Tulsa officer was charged with first-degree manslaughter on Thursday after the shooting.
Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts signed an order imposing a curfew from midnight on Thursday to 6am yesterday as protesters marched through the streets, their numbers smaller than on previous nights.
Police tactics and deadly encounters with African-Americans, many of them unarmed, have sparked protests and unrest across the US in recent years. Mrs Clinton on Wednesday said the deaths in Charlotte and Tulsa added two more names to the list of African-American victims of police killings. "It's unbearable, and it needs to become intolerable," she said.
REUTERS, WASHINGTON POST