When Donald Trump isn’t offering to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border or to ban Muslims from entering the country, he’s dominating the race to be the Republican presidential nominee.
But back in June, when people still thought Trump’s bid was a joke, the billionaire real estate mogul sat down with The Chicago Tribune. Tucked into his explanation of why he’s the best candidate were some racially coded comments about how to drop crime rates in the Windy City.
“You may have to go in there and you need tough cookies. These are tough kids. These are not babies. These are tough, tough kids. If they saw you walking down the street, they wouldn’t have a -- they wouldn’t give a damn,” Trump said. “You gotta be tough. You can’t be so gentle with these people. You gotta stop crime. Crime in Chicago is out of control.”
He suggested the city implement stop-and-frisk, the controversial tactic New York once employed.
“You’re not going to stop it by being nice. You gotta stop it by being one tough son of a bitch,” he added.
His comments in the video below begin at 40:20.
Besides the fact that most Americans are fed up with “tough on crime” methods, Trump seems to have missed the memo that these policies haven’t been very successful in cities like Chicago, New York and Baltimore, to name a few. When such policies are put in place, complaints of police harassment tend to rise, and people -- most of them poor and black -- are arrested and serve extended sentences for minor offenses. Incarcerating more people, contrary to the myth behind this mindset, does not cause crime rates to drop.
Trump's reiteration of "these people" does two things: It strips the black and brown people in question of humanity, and it promotes the idea that to keep their neighborhoods safe, you must be "tough" on them.
His comments also strongly parallel remarks Hillary Clinton made in 1996.
“[W]e also have to have an organized effort against gangs, just as in the previous generation we had an organized effort against the mob. We need to take these people on. They are often connected to drug cartels. They are not just gangs of kids anymore,” Clinton said at the time. “They are often the kinds of kids that are called 'superpredators.' No conscience, no empathy. We can talk about how they got that way, but first we have to bring them to heel.”
The "superpredator narrative," and those similar to it, has a racial component, as Steven A. Drizin, a professor at Northwestern University School of Law, explained in a blog for HuffPost:
Professor John DiIulio, a Princeton political science professor, first mentioned the word in November 1995 in an article he published in The Weekly Standard. DiIulio's superpredators were "subhuman," "amoral," "feral" creatures ready to maim, rape, and murder Americans without a second's thought. DiIulio became the darling of crime control conservatives. His forecast of a "coming Armageddon" of this "new breed" of urban (i.e. black and brown) youth criminals ignited an already combustible issue. Fear of superpredators unleashed a moral panic that led virtually every state to enact laws making it easier to prosecute and sentence juveniles as adults, send them to adult prisons, and keep them there for most or all of their lives.
None of this is shocking coming from someone like Trump. But his views on crime and how to stop it are just another thing to keep in mind as he barrels toward the Republican presidential nomination.