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Trump concedes Obama was born in the U.S.

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The Republican nominee also accuses Clinton of giving rise to the birther conspiracies, despite no evidence she did so.

Donald Trump on Friday stated that he no longer believes President Barack Obama was born outside the United States, breaking away from a conspiracy theory that helped fuel his political rise.

“President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period. Now we all want to get back to making America strong and great again,” Trump said at his new Washington hotel, flanked by Medal of Honor recipients, in an appearance that often seemed like a plug for his property and an extended endorsement of Trump by veterans.

He also blamed Hillary Clinton for raising questions about Obama's citizenship during the 2008 campaign, despite no evidence that she did so.

“Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy. I finished it. I finished it,” he said on Friday morning, referencing his public pressure campaign in 2011 that resulted in Obama releasing his long-form birth certificate showing he was born in Hawaii.

The reversal came after his aides and allies had publicly pressured him to disavow the theories, which had furthered the racist and xenophobic undertones of his presidential campaign. But Trump had continued to play coy, often saying in interviews that the issue didn’t matter anymore, even as he refused to state outright that he no longer believed Obama could have been born in Kenya.

Many of Clinton’s allies reacted to Trump’s statement with disgust.

“Trump doubled down on lie-filled statement from his campaign last night & took no responsibility for his bigoted attacks on our President,” Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon tweeted.

Former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm was more succinct: “I. Can't. Even.”

And Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid scoffed at Trump's accusation. "Hillary brought it up? What a liar," he said on CNN.

The shift comes as Trump has emerged as a more disciplined candidate — relatively — after Kellyanne Conway, a respected GOP pollster, was installed as his campaign manager in a leadership shakeup last month.

While Trump has had lapses — notably attacking an African-American pastor on Thursday after she cut off his speech in a Flint church — he has generally been more restrained, even taking a pass on health conspiracy theories after Clinton nearly collapsed following a pneumonia diagnosis.

But Clinton, in a prebuttal, warned against voters falling for Trump’s supposed change of heart.

"So my friends, there is no new Donald Trump. There never will be," Clinton said at the Black Women's Agenda Symposium workshop in Washington, which occurred before Trump’s news conference.

The Democratic nominee accused Trump of "feeding into the worst impulse" that still exists in America for his role in leading the birther conspiracies.

"For five years, he has led the birther movement to delegitimize our first black president. His campaign was founded on this outrageous lie," Clinton said at the Black Women's Agenda Symposium workshop in Washington, which occurred before Trump’s news conference. "He's feeding into the worst impulses, the bigotry and bias that lurks in our country. Barack Obama was born in America, plain and simple. And Donald Trump owes him and the American people an apology."

Obama also weighed in before Trump spoke, telling reporters at the White House, “I was pretty confident about where I was born.”

“I'm shocked that a question like that would come up at a time when we have got so many other things to do,” Obama said, before adding, “Well I'm not that shocked, actually. It's really typical. We got other business to attend to.”

He continued, “And my hope would be that the presidential election reflects more serious issues than that.”

As recently as Wednesday Trump had declined in an interview with the Washington Post to acknowledge that Obama is a U.S. citizen, perhaps because he wanted to avoid stepping on the Friday announcement.

“I’ll answer that question at the right time,” Trump told the newspaper in an interview that was conducted on Wednesday and published on Thursday. “I just don’t want to answer it yet.”

Asked on "Good Morning America" whether his father would say himself that Obama was born in the U.S., Donald Trump Jr. responded, "I don't know." But he said that a statement issued late Thursday by Trump campaign aide Jason Miller "should be the definitive end of it. We thought it was the definitive end when he acknowledged that, 'hey, we got Obama to release his birth certificate' then but, again, we want to talk about jobs. We don't want to talk about gossip."

Miller's statement came after the Washington Post published its article on Trump remaining unwilling to acknowledge Obama was born in the U.S. Clinton said on Thursday night that those comments showed "bigotry."

The Trump campaign presented the late-night reversal as a victory lap of sorts, claiming he had forced the president to put questions about his origins to rest — questions it said, incorrectly, were first raised by Clinton in 2008.

"In 2011, Mr. Trump was finally able to bring this ugly incident to its conclusion by successfully compelling President Obama to release his birth certificate," Miller said, adding that Trump "did a great service to the president and the country by bringing closure to the issue."

Miller continued: "Having successfully obtained President Obama’s birth certificate when others could not, Mr. Trump believes that President Obama was born in the United States."

He also alleged that it was Clinton who "first raised this issue to smear then-candidate Barack Obama in her very nasty, failed 2008 campaign for president" but said she was "too weak to get an answer."

While some of her supporters voiced suspicions about Obama's true birthplace at the time, independent fact checkers have found the claim that Clinton did so to be false, and she has called the idea "ludicrous."

Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, earlier this month broke with Trump, stating, “I believe Barack Obama was born in Hawaii.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders, Clinton former primary rival, earlier on Friday expressed disgust that Trump was enabling his supporters’ darker impulses by remaining coy for so long.

“Yeah it matters. Because, he's trying to waffle,” Sanders said on CNN. “He's trying to appeal to those extreme, extreme, extreme, extremists who still believe that Obama was not born in America.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi tried to turn the heat on Trump’s fellow Republicans, saying the Republican nominee is following the lead of GOP lawmakers who have long peddled hateful language.

"None of the things that he has said that members of Congress haven't said over and over again on the Republican side," Pelosi said on CNN, quickly adding, that it is "not all of them."

Asked whether she meant that Republican members of Congress are following Trump's lead, Pelosi said it was the opposite.

"No, I think he's following theirs. I think that in Congress if you look at the record, the public record on, for example, immigration," the California Democrat continued. "There are worse statements made by members of Congress for a long period of time that they tried to implement into law in terms of Muslims into our country. Shocking language used by Republicans in Congress. So he’s a reflection of them, which is why I think that some of the establishment Republicans are unhappy with Trump for what he says, but also he's pulled back the veil."

Trump’s longtime confidant Roger Stone on Friday morning said in an interview that Trump wouldn’t be pressured into changing his position.

He said the birther issue “hasn’t really been a focus point of this presidential campaign,” and that such talk is a distraction from Clinton’s dire health problems – another conspiracy theory rampant among Trump supporters.

“The thing about Trump, of course, is that he will never be pressured into doing something that he does not want to do,” Stone said on Boston Herald Radio’s Boston Herald Drive. “This is what I think makes him a great negotiator. He is tough. He’s got real concerns here. I think the bottom line is he doesn’t know. He’s not sure. That’s not the same as “I’m certain the president was born either in Hawaii” or “I’m certain that he was not.”

And Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly said there was a clear upside to Trump refusing to let the birther conspiracies go. "I wouldn't have done it this way, but I would have put it to bed a long time ago," O'Reilly said in a telephone interview on Fox News in the minutes preceding Trump's speech in Washington.

He added, "You can't second-guess the strategy that has him tied with Hillary Clinton, who should be ahead by 15 points."

It was arguably Trump, as he flirted with a presidential run ahead of the 2012 election, who injected "birtherism" into the national political conversation.

"I have people that have been studying [Obama's birth certificate] and they cannot believe what they're finding ... I would like to have him show his birth certificate, and can I be honest with you, I hope he can," Trump said on NBC's "Today Show" in April 2011. "Because if he can't, if he can't, if he wasn't born in this country, which is a real possibility ... then he has pulled one of the great cons in the history of politics."

Trump's investigative findings never materialized. But he continued to cast doubt on Obama's nationality, even after the White House released the president's long-form birth certificate.

In July 2012, he congratulated Joe Arpaio, the Arizona sheriff best known for his hardline immigration stance, "on his successful Cold Case Posse investigation which claims @BarackObama's 'birth certificate' is fake."

M. Scott Mahaskey

In August 2012, he tweeted, "An 'extremely credible source' has called my office and told me that@BarackObama's birth certificate is a fraud."

In an August 2013 interview with ABC News, Trump said: "Was it a birth certificate? You tell me. Some people say that was not his birth certificate. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't. I'm saying I don't know. Nobody knows."

And in December 2013, Trump even implied that a Hawaii official who had vouched for the birth certificate's authenticity had been murdered. "How amazing, the State Health Director who verified copies of Obama’s 'birth certificate' died in plane crash today. All others lived," he tweeted.

As recently as January 2016, in an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, Trump said "who knows" if Obama was born in the United States, and said he had his "own theory" on the matter that he planned to lay out in a forthcoming book.

"It'll do very successfully," he added.

But as his current advisers try to address concerns among his pollsters that too many voters view the GOP nominee as racist, they have sought to put the issue to behind him.

His campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, said in a recent TV interview that Trump "believes President Obama was born here," and several top surrogates, including former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, have urged him to say so publicly.

Asked about Conway's comments, Trump told the Post: “It’s OK. She’s allowed to speak what she thinks. I want to focus on jobs, I want to focus on other things.”

But when the Post followed up with further questions, he said: “I don’t talk about it anymore. The reason I don’t is because then everyone is going to be talking about it as opposed to jobs, the military, the vets, security.”

Before Miller's statement was issued on Thursday, Clinton ripped Trump's comments at a black-tie gala in Washington, D.C.

“He was asked one more time, 'Where was President Obama born?'” she said. “And he still wouldn't say Hawaii. He still wouldn't say America. This man wants to be our next president? When will he stop this ugliness, this bigotry?”

Her spokesman, Brian Fallon, later tweeted in response to Miller: "Trump needs to say it himself. On camera. And admit he was wrong for trying to delegitimize the country's first African American President."

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Elizabeth Warren: Donald Trump Is ‘Too Chicken’ To Release His Tax Return

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Every nominee in the past nine presidential elections, Democrat or Republican, has released them.

With less than eight weeks to go before the elections, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) called Donald Trump “chicken” on Thursday as Democrats ramped up the battle over the Republican nominee’s refusal to release his tax returns.

Warren assailed Trump after Senate Democrats tried to force a vote on legislation that would require all presidential nominees for a major political party to disclose their tax returns. 

“Donald Trump makes a big show of strutting around pretending to be tough, but he’s too chicken to show his tax returns to the American people,” Warren said on the Senate floor. “He’s had a million excuses, but we all know why Donald Trump isn’t releasing his taxes: He’s hiding something.”

Trump often cites an IRS audit as the reason he will not make his tax returns public, though he admits he could “immediately” release them if he felt like it. On Wednesday, Donald Trump Jr. said his father can’t release his tax returns because they would raise too many questions that would take away from the campaign’s message.

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, have made their tax returns available dating back to 1977.

Warren wondered aloud how Trump’s tax returns could be any worse than the Republican nominee’s repeated praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Donald Trump praises brutal dictators and murderers,” Warren said. “He threatens our allies, he denigrates democracy right here at home. So what is so bad that Donald Trump has to hide it? Would his tax returns show how deeply Donald Trump’s personal financial interests run counter to the national interests of the United States of America?”

Warren’s speech came moments after Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) tried to bring his bill ― the Presidential Tax Transparency Act, which mandates candidates disclose at least three years of their tax returns ― up for a vote.

“Since Watergate, there has been a bipartisan tradition honored by all candidates that they would release their tax returns,” Wyden said on the floor. “Every Democrat, every Republican, every liberal, every conservative has subscribed to honoring this particular tradition.”

The tradition Wyden referred to dates back to 1973, when the IRS audited President Richard Nixon over questionable donations and a belief that he had cheated the tax system. Though Nixon didn’t release his returns until after he was re-elected, every Republican nominee since President Ronald Reagan in 1980 has voluntarily done so. 

He’s had a million excuses, but we all know why Donald Trump isn’t releasing his taxes: He’s hiding something.Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)

As lawmakers headed for the exits after four days of minimal work, Wyden asked for unanimous consent that his legislation be considered by the upper chamber, allowing it to bypass the committee process. Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) objected.

“If my friend from Oregon wants to discuss transparency and bring the presidential election here to the floor of the United States Senate, I think the person we should start with is the former secretary of state,” Cornyn said, referring to Clinton’s private email sever.

Cornyn then offered to speed up consideration of of his legislation ― one that would revoke the security clearance of anyone found to be careless in handling classified information ― alongside Wyden’s bill.

Wyden shot it down. “[Cornyn’s] attempt to hide the dishonoring of a tradition of openness and accountability behind a political witch hunt ought to tell Americans all they need to know about Senate Republicans,” he said.

“Once you break from the tradition, it will be hard to get it back,” Wyden told reporters Thursday after trying to force the vote.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) joined Wyden at a press conference after the Democrats’ failed attempt and questioned Trump’s motives for his presidential run. 

“Are you running to protect our national security interests or are you running to protect your family’s financial interest? And we can’t know the answer to that question without these tax returns,” Murphy said. “Trump’s son has been very clear that the family has massive financial interests in Russia. He’s said it.”

In 2008, Trump Jr. reportedly said, “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets,” according to trade publication eTurboNews.

“It would be embarrassing to find out that Donald Trump didn’t pay any taxes,” Murphy added. 

It’s unlikely Republican leaders will allow Wyden’s measure to come up. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said Trump should release his tax returns, but doesn’t think there should be a bill forcing such disclosure.

Democrats won’t have many more chances to force a vote on the bill. Congress is set to leave for a break in October ahead of the elections.

Still, Wyden said he would continue to push for a vote and talk to his Republican colleagues about signing onto his bill, especially those who have been critical of Trump. 

 

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Bill Cosby’s Lawyers Just Pulled The Race Card He Never Seemed To Believe In

Bill Cosby.

“The campaign against Mr. Cosby builds on racial bias and prejudice that can pollute the court of public opinion.” As Bill Cosby nears a potentially messy, public trial regarding his alleged sexual assault, his legal team is trying a controversial new tactic.  Cosby’s lawyers have claimed that racism is the reason their client has been the target of numerous rape and sexual assault allegations.

On Tuesday, at a Philadelphia court hearing regarding a 2004 incident in which Cosby allegedly assaulted former Temple University employee Andrea Constand, the presiding judge announced plans to begin a jury trial by June 2017. 

After the hearing, Cosby’s legal team spoke out about apparent “racial bias and prejudice” against their client outside of the courthouse.

“Mr. Cosby is no stranger to discrimination and racial hatred, and throughout his career Mr. Cosby has always used his voice and his celebrity to highlight the commonalities and has portrayed the differences that are not negative, no matter the race, gender and religion of a person,” lawyer Brian McMonagle said in a statement to reporters. 

McMonagle said that Cosby’s civil rights have been trampled on, and specifically targeted high-profile lawyer Gloria Allred, who represents nearly half the women who will potentially testify against Cosby. 

“[Allred] calls herself a civil rights attorney, but her campaign against Mr. Cosby builds on racial bias and prejudice that can pollute the court of public opinion,” McMonagle said.

He also called out the media for its coverage of Allred and her clients’ accusations of Cosby, saying that reporting on the allegations simply perpetuates the racial bias.

“And when the media repeats her accusations — with no evidence, no trial and no jury — we are moved backwards as a country and away from the America that our civil rights leaders sacrificed so much to create,” he said.

Though some black celebrities who support Cosby like Eddie Griffin have dismissed the rape allegations against him as a racist conspiracy to tarnish his legacy, this is the first time that Cosby’s legal team have explicitly brought race into the discussion regarding the accusations against him.

In the past, Cosby has dismissed racism as a reason for the disadvantages some black people face. 

Though he has served as an icon of the black community thanks to his comedy work and his groundbreaking career on TV via “I Spy” and “The Cosby Show,” he’s also been accused of engaging in the worst of respectability politics. He’s suggested that black people should stop blaming injustices and disadvantages on racism, and has especially targeted poor black people. 

In an infamous NAACP speech in 2004 known as the “Pound Cake Speech” he said:

“These are people going around stealing Coca-Cola. People getting shot in the back of the head over a piece of pound cake. Then we all run out and are outraged: ‘The cops shouldn’t have shot him.’ What the hell was he doing with the pound cake in his hand?” 

In a statement obtained by ABC, Gloria Allred described Brian McMonagle’s comments on his client as “desperate.” 

“He complains about racial bias but what about the African American women whom I represent who accuse him of sexual assault or rape and who refuse to remain silent about what they say they have suffered?” Allred said.

At Tuesday’s hearing, prosecutors petitioned to have 13 women who have made previous accusations against Cosby testify in his upcoming trial. Of those 13 women, 12 are white, may have been a factor in a new racial argument from Cosby’s defense.   

“I think they deserve a voice and I am proud to represent them,” Allred added in her statement. “This is not an issue of racial bias. Instead, it is an issue of whether or not Mr. Cosby has committed acts of gender sexual violence.”

It remains to be seen whether the claims of racial bias will be used in Cosby’s actual courtroom defense, but the introduction of race into the discussion by his own legal team marks a significant shift in the conversation about his pending trial.

There’s no denying that white men in Hollywood like Woody Allen and Roman Polanski have faced far less public scrutiny and have kept their legacies largely intact in the wake of horrific sexual assault claims. The question is: does that make the accusations against Cosby, a black man, any less valid? 

In the court of public opinion, Cosby is pretty much guilty in the eyes of many of those who’ve followed this story. It remains to be seen whether race will have any impact on the outcome of the trial. 

 

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Black Millennials: Don’t Help Donald Trump

OK, in the ’90s, the Clintons backed some bad things. But they backed some good things. Whatever. The ’90s aren’t what matters. The future is. With the election less than two months away, there still remains plenty of cause for concern regarding the black vote and Hillary Clinton. Clinton and the Democrats inevitably were going to win the lion’s share of the black vote, but that has never been enough. Clinton needs to win a share of the black vote similar to Barack Obama’s to ensure that the Democrats retain the White House. And black voters need to flex their electoral might to show that 2008 and 2012 were not flukes buoyed by America’s first black president. Presently, neither seem foregone conclusions, and the majority of the uncertainty resides with young black voters.

A recent report by The New York Times describes the frustrations of many young black voters in two vital swing states—Ohio and Florida—regarding this election, and their bewildering reluctance to support Clinton.

“He’s a racist, and she is a liar, so really what’s the difference in choosing both or choosing neither,” said a young black woman from Ohio, who participated in the Times’ focus group.

“She was part of the whole problem that started sending blacks to jail,” said a young black man in the focus group.

Additionally, only 70 percent of African Americans under 35 in Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia plan on voting for Clinton—8 percent plan on voting for Trump, and 18 percent are undecided or backing another candidate. In 2012, Obama won 92 percent of black voters under 45 nationally.

As a young black voter myself I’ve heard countless reasons why black millennials may not want to vote for Clinton this year. While each argument may consist of some valid points, on average they display a myopic naïveté that undermines the progress they intend to forge and projects some of the less desirable narratives attributed to millennials.

I’ve spoken to older African Americans too, and many remain perplexed by the willful disenfranchisement expressed by this younger generation. Also, this generation’s fixation on the Clintons of the 1990s—with an emphasis on their faults and not their successes—instead of the Clintons of today remains baffling to the older generation.

African Americans do not condone Hillary’s “super predators” comment from 1996; nor do they embrace Bill’s tough on crime policies, which were an extension of the policing measures of the two previous presidential administrations. Yet America was far less racially progressive in the 1990s than it is today.

And besides, the Clintons’ policies on racial questions didn’t begin and end with crime. They actively sought the black vote, welcomed the opinions of African Americans, and hired African Americans for administration and cabinet positions at rates that were previously unheard of. He defended and saved affirmative action at a moment when it was on death row. It’s disingenuous of people to forget all these good things.

Additionally, older African Americans remember how Bill Clinton won traditionally Republican states such as Georgia, Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Kentucky on his way to the White House in 1992. The Clintons dismantled Richard Nixon’s Southern Strategy, which hinged on stoking the racial animus of white Americans to win Southern states and secure the presidency for Republicans. That’s a big part of why the GOP became hell bent on destroying the Clintons.

And while they failed at that, they succeeded at defeating Al Gore, his chosen successor, and facilitating racial divisions. The parallels between unprecedented Republican attacks on Bill Clinton’s and Obama’s presidencies due to their ability to create radical electoral shifts by engaging and enfranchising African Americans should be obvious for anyone who reexamines the 1990s.

Yet irrationally, some young black voters have instead chosen to fixate on the mistakes of the Clintons, and parrot the disparaging conservative rhetoric of the 1990s regarding them. And in doing so, black millennials may be contributing to creating another improbable window for a divisive Republican candidate to claim the presidency.

In addition to a bizarre mis-recollection of the 1990s, these black millennials also exude a desire for perfection and a reluctance to settling. Since neither candidate is perfect in their eyes, they say they are now forced to chosen between the lesser of two evils, and they argue that there is an inherent injustice in being forced into this situation. Plenty of young white millennials who supported Bernie Sanders expressed similar sentiments.

But this amounts to willful disenfranchisement. Willfully disengaging or voting for a third party candidate who more closely embodies their idea of perfection seems an adequate recourse for some young black voters instead of settling for one of the two major candidates. Yet the collective impact of this action will only result in stunting the progress black millennials hope to achieve.

The increased weight of black voices in American society does not stem from a national, progressive moral epiphany or even the presence of the Obamas in the White House. Our louder voice exists now because African Americans voted at unprecedented rates for two consecutive presidential elections, and our enhanced electoral voice forced America to listen to us. In 2012, 66 percent of eligible African American voters voted, surpassing the percentage of white voters—for the first time in history—by 2 percent. In 2008, 65 percent voted.

The young black voters who remain reluctant to vote for Clinton assume that our societal influence has become the new norm. They have remained focused on striving to improve American society and simultaneously oblivious to the profound threat posed by a Trump presidency for African Americans and other minorities. This is a privileged perspective that older African Americans struggle to comprehend.

For American society, this election is about sustaining the social progress and racial equity forged during Obama’s presidency. Trump offers only social regression. Young black voters will play a pivotal role in deciding the next president, and their misguided inclination to support apathy or willful disenfranchisement when confronted with a resurgent white nationalist movement and enflamed racial divisions may be one of the most tragic realities of this entire election.

 

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More White Young Adults Support BLM. But There’s Still One Big Issue.

Black Lives Movement.

A new survey released Monday revealed that more young, white adults support the Black Lives Matter movement than ever before. But that advance comes with a big caveat. The GenForward survey, which was conducted by the Associated Press and the Black Youth Project amongst 1,958 adults between Aug. 1 and Aug. 14, showed that 51 percent of white adults between the ages of 18 and 30 say they support BLM, while 42 percent say they do not. 

In June, the number of white people who backed BLM stood at only 41 percent. While this is encouraging, a staggering set of statistics emerged from the same study, among them: 66 percent of young, white adults think BLM’s rhetoric encourages violence against the police. 

The survey showed that the belief was shared across racial/ethnic groups, too: 43 percent of Asian-Americans, 42 percent of Hispanics, and 19 percent of African-Americans share the opinion. 

BLM wasn’t built to incite any form of violence against police. In fact, it’s one of thedangerous misconceptions about the movement the group has sought to debunk. The movement’s larger mission is simply to demand that officers be held accountable for their actions. It is a message that has been upheld throughout dozens of protests around the country and reinforced this summer by the BLM’s co-founders.

Race helped dictate how people felt against cops and black citizens, too. According to the survey, 63 percent of young, white adults view violence against cops as a serious problem, while just 43 percent say the same of violence against black people at the hands of police. Not surprisingly, 91 percent of African Americans view cop killings of black men and women was a “very or extremely serious problem” and 72 percent say this problem plays into a larger systemic issue. (Sixty-one percent of Asian Americans, 51 percent of Latinos and only 40 percent of white people felt the same.)

Yet many BLM advocates, including the Rev. Al Sharpton, think that police brutality is instead a systemic issue in need of reform. Despite the promising changes to people’s general beliefs in the BLM movement, it’s discouraging to see on paper what we’ve really known all along: That support for the BLM movement ― and all it’s trying to do ― falls heavily along racial lines.  

Surprise, surprise. 

 

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