Trump claims he has done more for black community than any president since Lincoln

Mr Trump insists 'best is yet to come' for US African American communities

Graig Graziosi
Wednesday 03 June 2020 17:55
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President Donald Trump claimed he and his administration have done more for African Americans than "any president since Abraham Lincoln," insisting that the "BEST IS YET TO COME."

His statement was made on the eighth day of the George Floyd protests, in which thousands of people have taken to the street over the killing of yet another unarmed black man at the hands of police.

Since the protests began, videos have been widely shared on social media of police beating and gassing protesters, hitting people with cars, and harassing and attacking journalists. Mr Trump is using active-duty military personnel to respond to protesting inside the District of Columbia.

"My Admin has done more for the Black Community than any President since Abraham Lincoln. Passed Opportunity Zones with @SenatorTimScott, guaranteed funding for HBCU's, School Choice, passed Criminal Justice Reform, lowest Black unemployment, poverty and crime rates in history," Mr Trump tweeted. "AND THE BEST IS YET TO COME!"

Mr Trump claimed in a Twitter thread that his administration has worked to enact criminal justice reform, that "opportunity zones" to incentivize businesses to open in poor communities have been established and that black Americans had record low unemployment rates prior to the pandemic.

While the First Step Act - likely what Mr Trump is referencing when he says 'criminal justice reform' - is a well regarded piece of legislation addressing much needed prison reforms, it was also under his administration that former US Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued memos reducing the federal government's ability to step in and regulate local law enforcement offices.

The memos signed by Mr Sessions greatly reduced the federal government's ability to reign in and reform local police departments using consent decree agreements. Consent decrees were used during President Barack Obama's terms to overhaul police departments in Baltimore and Ferguson.

As for opportunity zones, while some poor communities have benefited from them, the policy has largely been used by wealthy, high-profile investors to reap the benefits of tax-free incentives.

Reporting for the New York Times, reporter David Yaffe-Bellany said the opportunity zones' most visible impact was among the "wealthiest Americans."

"They are poised to reap billions in untaxed profits on high-end apartment buildings and hotels in trendy neighbourhoods, storage facilities that employ only a handful of workers or student housing in bustling college towns," he wrote.

Notable investors include Mark Cuban, hedge fund manager Leon Cooperman, Sidney Kohl of the Kohl's department store chain and big banks like JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs.

School Choice is a Republican effort to weaken public school systems by offering families money to send their kids to private charter schools or to fund home-school education. While studies have shown that well-regulated charter schools provide education at or above the level of public schools, charter schools that aren't well regulated frequently fall far below the educational standards of public schools.

With regard to Mr Trump's unemployment claims, while the rates were low, they aren't any longer. Unemployment rate among black Americans rose to 16.7 percent since the onset of the virus, and communities of colour have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

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