Trump slams violence in Detroit, other cities, says, 'It's like living in hell'

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

For the second time in a week, President Donald Trump used the national spotlight Thursday to talk about violence in Detroit and other large cities, saying in an interview that "it's like living in hell."

The comment drew immediate criticism from Democrats, including Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. She tweeted Friday that Michigan residents "know better."

John Roach, a spokesman for Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.

Trump made his latest remark during an interview with Sean Hannity, the Fox News host who has a nightly show on the network. Hannity asked Trump about violence in cities like Chicago, Seattle and New York City.

"I don't know how people pursue their happiness and their dreams in life if they don't have basic, fundamental security," Hannity said during his question.

Trump then responded by saying the violence in Chicago is "worse than Afghanistan." He went on to mention Honduras and Guatemala.

"We have cities that are worse, in some cases far worse," Trump continued. "Take a look at Detroit. Take a look at what's happening in Oakland. Take a look at what's happening in Baltimore."

President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the BOK Center, Saturday, June 20, 2020, in Tulsa, Okla.

"And everyone gets upset when I say it. They say, 'Oh, is that a racist statement?'" Trump added. "It's not a racist (statement). Frankly, Black people come up to me, say, 'Thank you. Thank you, sir, for saying it.'"

"They want help," Trump continued. These cites, it's like living in hell."

Trump mentioned stop-and-frisk and taking guns away as potential solutions.

In response, Michigan state Sen. Adam Hollier, D-Detroit, said whenever stop-and-frisk is discussed as a good program that's effective, it's "100% about racism."

The New York Civil Liberties Union reported that in 2013, police found only 397 guns during 191,851 stops that year in New York City, Hollier said.

"This is another in a long string of attempts to criminalize being Black," Hollier said.

Trump's interview with Hannity aired Thursday night. On Saturday night during a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Trump made similar comments. The president said the cities with the highest murder rates and with the highest child poverty rates are controlled by Democrats.

"The murder rate in Baltimore and Detroit is higher than El Salvador, Guatemala or even Afghanistan," Trump said. "How are they doing, the Democrats running those cities? The whole country will be like that."

Detroit, Michigan's largest city, ended 2019 with 272 homicides — up slightly from 2018. However, the city recorded fewer than 300 killings in 2019 for only the fourth time since 1967, according to preliminary statistics revealed in January.

Asked about the president's comments, Adrian Hemond, partner & CEO of the political consulting firm Grassroots Midwest, who worked for Democrats in the Michigan Legislature, said Trump was campaigning to win the Electoral College by "trying to frighten white people."

"There’s no other way to put that," Hemond said.

Staff Writer George Hunter contributed.