What Was True and What Was False About Race, Crime and Gun Violence at Tonight’s Debate

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Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. (Photo: Getty Images/Yahoo Beauty)

Tonight, former reality TV star and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and former secretary of state and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton faced off in their first debate of the general election.

Over the course of the hour and a half long debate, Clinton and Trump discussed topics from ISIS to cybersecurity to the success of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). But one of the more nuanced and especially critical exchanges came when moderator Lester Holt asked the candidates to address the issue of race relations in the U.S. Holt, the anchor for NBC Nightly News, described the situation as being “amplified by the shootings of African-Americans by police as we have seen recently in Charlotte and Tulsa”; this led to a heated exchange between Clinton and Trump on a range of racial issues, from stop and frisk to gun safety.

Below, we break down what’s true and what’s false about what was said tonight on race, gun violence, and law enforcement.

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Clinton said that race impacts everything from education to criminal justice, the kinds of education children receive in public schools and the kind of treatment received by adults in the criminal justice system. This is TRUE.

Per this year’s Civil Rights Data Results survey released by the U.S. Board of Education, 49.7 percent of all public school students in the U.S. are children of color. And those students often have very different educational experiences than their white, non-Hispanic peers.

The differences start from the earliest educational experiences, with black preschoolers being 3.6 times more likely to be suspended than white preschoolers. And at the high school level, 51 percent of high schools with high black and Latino enrollment also have assigned police officers in school. And black students are 2.3 times more likely than white students to be referred to law enforcement or arrested as a result of a school incident.

Furthermore, while black and Latino students make up 38 percent of those enrolled at schools that offer AP courses, they make up less than a third of students taking AP courses, and advanced level courses in math and science offered by schools. And schools with high black and Latino enrollment have twice as many teachers in their first year of teaching than schools that are predominantly Caucasian.

There are also well-documented differences in the criminal justice system tied to race. African-Americans represent almost half of all people incarcerated, and are incarcerated at six times the rate of white peers, despite representing approximately 13 percent of the population. If current trends hold, one in three African-American men born this year will be arrested in their lifetime.

The numbers are even more staggering when it comes to sentencing for drug-related crimes. There are five times as many white drug users than black drug users, yet African-Americans are jailed for drug-related crimes at 10 times the rate as whites. African-Americans typically serve the same amount of jail time (58.7 months) for nonviolent drug-related crimes as Caucasians do for violent crimes (61.7 months).

Clinton also included in her reply to Holt’s question that “[t]he gun epidemic is a leading cause of death of young African-American men, more than the next nine causes put together.” And this is also TRUE.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the leading cause of death for black men age 15 to 24 is homicide. Homicide accounted for 2,826 deaths in the demographic in 2004, or 42.2 percent of deaths. The next nine leading causes (accidents, suicide, heart disease, malignant neoplasms, congenital malformations and chromosomal abnormalities, HIV, anemia and pregnancy) accounted for 2,813 deaths that same year.

Even more striking, as the Washington Post reported last year, while 77 percent of gun deaths among whites are because of suicide, 82 percent of gun deaths among black Americans is homicide. Thirty-nine percent of black parents say they worry about their child being shot, while only 22 percent of white parents express a similar concern.

Black women face harrowing figures when it comes to gun violence too. Black women are killed by men at nearly two and a half times the rate as white women; and when a weapon could be identified, it was a firearm 57 percent of the time. Of those deaths, the weapon was a handgun 76 percent of the time. And 86 percent of the gun deaths of black women were not connected to any other kind of felony, but as a result of a domestic dispute or argument.

While a great deal of attention is rightfully being paid to the rate at which black men are being shot and killed during encounters with police, black women are also being affected. Nine black women have been shot and killed by police in 2016 alone.

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During his time to reply, Trump placed a great deal of emphasis on the use of stop-and-frisk programs, which he pointed to as having “worked very well in New York” at reducing crime rates by imposing more “law and order.” This statement is, however, FALSE.

Indeed, even moderator Holt pointed to the fact that stop-and-frisk was found to be unconstitutional, a reference to the 2013 ruling by Manhattan Federal Judge Shira Scheindlin, who found New York City’s stop-and-frisk program to be in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Holt also called attention to stop-and-frisk as a form of racial profiling.

The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) found that in 2009, 53 percent of those involved in all stop-and-frisk stops in NYC were black, despite black people representing just 23 percent of all city residents. And yet contraband was more likely to be confiscated when whites were subject to stop and frisk than blacks or Latinos.

Trump also said that crime rates have gone up in the city since stop and frisk was ended. The NYPD’s assistant commissioner for communication and public information took to Twitter to fact-check Trump himself, declaring this allegation FALSE. He wrote, “Critics decried that having fewer stops in #NYC would result in higher crime. The very opposite occurred.”



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