Did Donald Trump Just Compare the NFL to Inner City Gang Violence in Chicago?

President Donald Trump appeared to conflate his ongoing battle with the NFL over national anthem protests with gang violence and killings in Chicago during an interview on Thursday.

The president has been involved in a dispute with the NFL over the past month after players began following Colin Kaepernick—who kneeled during the anthem to protest police violence against black people—by taking a knee or remaining in the locker room during the Star-Spangled Banner.

During an interview with Fox News, Sean Hannity asked the president what his policies would be to improve inner-city conditions and somehow Trump managed to equate gang problems in Chicago with the NFL protest.

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Trump spoke about the need for greater police presence, then went on to say that the inner cities were not working with the White House to solve the problem. “First of all,” Trump said, “minorities want police protection more than anybody, they need it more than anybody. What’s going on is crazy.

“One of the things we are doing very strongly now is the inner cities. Now, Chicago is out of control; I don’t know what they’re doing in Chicago to have this many shootings and this many killings, and all of the different things that are going on. This is not like it's the United States of America—and, pure and simple, that’s bad management, that’s bad politics.”

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He continued: “It’s incredible, and then you talk to them: ‘Why aren’t you doing anything?’ and they don’t want to talk about it. It’s really insulting to our nation. Whether you take on the NFL or you take on Chicago or some of our other cities, there shouldn’t be murders like this.”

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Trump’s battle with the NFL began three weeks ago when, at a rally in Alabama for Republican senator Luther Strange, the president urged franchise owners to punish players who protested the national anthem.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’” Trump said.

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“You know, some owner is going to do that. He’s going to say, ‘That guy that disrespects our flag, he’s fired.’ And that owner, they don’t know it [but] they’ll be the most popular person in this country.”

President Donald Trump
President Donald Trump

President Donald Trump at the White House, Washington, DC, October 12. Alex Wong/Getty

In the weeks that followed, Trump’s words appeared to backfire as more and more footballers protested during the national anthem. But, then, in the past week Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said any player that protested would not feature. “If there's anything that is disrespectful to the flag, then we will not play,” he said.

Then, a letter from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to all 32 franchise owners was leaked. It revealed that Goodell wanted to bring an end to the protest. “Like many of our fans,” he wrote, “we believe that everyone should stand for the National Anthem.” He went on to describe it as a “barrier to having honest conversations and making real progress on the underlying issues.”

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