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Georgia Voter Reaction: Race And Policing


And I'm Steve Inskeep in Atlanta, Ga., where we are listening to voters after they listened to last night's presidential debate. We call our project Divided States. We're hearing people with very different views, very different stories, as we heard yesterday, and then bringing them together as we are this morning. And it's been great during the break. Our folks have been just talking about politics, talking about health care, everything else.

Jon Jackson is here, Donald Trump supporter; Suzanne Menarcine and Tonya Hicks, both supporting Hillary Clinton. And everybody's still here. Glad you guys are with us. Let's just listen to a little bit more of the debate from last night. There was a discussion of stop and frisk, the policy of stopping and frisking people on the streets. First, here's Donald Trump.


DONALD TRUMP: You have to have stop and frisk. You need more police. You need a better community, you know, relation. You don't have good community relations in Chicago. It's terrible. I have property there. It's terrible what's going on in Chicago. But when you look - and Chicago's not the only - you go to Ferguson. You go to so many different places.

INSKEEP: So Trump describes an explosion of crime. He favors stop and frisk to get suspects off the street, to get guns off the streets. Here's what Secretary Clinton said about stop and frisk.


HILLARY CLINTON: There are the right ways of doing it, and then there are ways that are ineffective. Stop and frisk was found to be unconstitutional and in part because it was ineffective. It did not do what it needed to do. Now, I believe in community policing, and in fact, violent crime is one half of what it was in 1991. Property crime is down 40 percent. We just don't want to see it creep back up.

INSKEEP: Although to complete that thought, it is creeping back up in many places, still a very low level relative to decades ago but creeping up. Suzanne Menarcine, when you talked with us before, you said you were concerned about social justice. What did you think about when you listened to them talking about stop and frisk?

SUZANNE MENARCINE: Stop and frisk is racial profiling - no way about it. And the Supreme Court did rule that it was unconstitutional. It's unconstitutional for me to - for me or a police officer or anyone to stop somebody. Driving while black is a very real problem. We do need to restore trust between the community and the police. That's something we've lost with Ferguson, with Baltimore, with Charlotte, with Tulsa.

INSKEEP: And you mention Ferguson. That's a city that Trump himself mentioned in his answer. Jon Jackson, let me bring you in. As a Trump supporter, what do you think about when you hear Trump say that he supports stop and frisk?

JON JACKSON: I got mixed emotions about it. You know, I'm black, and I have dealt my fair share of - with police that, you know, have racially profiled me living in Jersey. The South has been awesome, ironically.

INSKEEP: The South has been better than New Jersey for you.

JACKSON: Absolutely, absolutely.

INSKEEP: We're just going to mark that down. Go on, go on.

JACKSON: (Laughter) Exactly. But my thing is the police in those areas, they know what's on the ground. If they're in an area where they need to kind of show the best use of force is the show of force to stop and squelch down the violence, then, you know, I'm for it. However, I do have to say it leaves a lot of room for folks who do have racial issues within the black community, and that's something that we need to be careful about.

INSKEEP: Tonya Hicks, I want to ask you about something else that was said last night. Donald Trump said, quote, "African-Americans and Hispanics are living in hell," talking specifically about what he described as the inner city. Secretary Clinton said that Trump is painting a dire negative picture of black communities and is missing a lot. What do you think about when you hear those remarks?

TONYA HICKS: That he's clueless, that...

INSKEEP: Why cluesless?

HICKS: When he said they are living in hell and he mentions Chicago, Ferguson, he's mentioning things he's seen on the TV. How many black communities has he spent time in? How many black holes - households has he visited? Not just gone to the black church, but how many households have you sat down in and walked up and down the street?

INSKEEP: You're saying you don't think he talks like somebody who has really met a lot of people that he's talking about.

HICKS: Exactly.

INSKEEP: With that said, though, is there a level - I mean, he's...


INSKEEP: ...Cast himself as a truth-teller. Is there a level that he's right about some people in some neighborhoods?

HICKS: That's not my experience and that's not the experience of people that I even know in other cities. I have never been to Chicago in those communities, so I don't know how they feel.

INSKEEP: We've been to your neighborhood. You live in a nice house, we should mention for people, a very nice neighborhood. Jon Jackson, what do you think about when you hear those remarks?

JACKSON: I think Trump is spot on. You know, I'm not going to - I'm not going to kind of, you know, hide behind this. There are a lot of black communities that are hell. There are a lot of - our young black men are killing each other. They're doing things - I mean, even down in the town of Milledgeville where I'm at, you know, black-on-black crime is - it's ridiculous, you know? And so I look at - I look at - when I left from - to go to Iraq in Afghanistan back in 2003 and I came back, the situation for African-Americans have not gotten better. To me, it's just gotten worse.

INSKEEP: Suzanne Menarcine, looks like you want to get in here.

MENARCINE: Well, I felt like Trump came across as someone who would say I'm not racist because I have a black friend. And it takes more than that to be not racist. You know, we do have a problem with black-on-black crime, but that's very different than the narrative of black men being shot by a white policemen. You cannot compare a - you cannot compare black-on-black crime with a law enforcement officer who is shooting an unarmed black man.

INSKEEP: Jon Jackson, I want to give you the last word because, as you mentioned, you're African-American, and you're a Donald Trump supporter, which puts you in a minority among African-Americans, according to polls.

JACKSON: Absolutely.

INSKEEP: And this is a guy who has been accused of bigoted remarks, who's been accused of being a racist on and on. What do you think about when you hear your candidate described as racist?

JACKSON: Where's the racism? Because he says that he doesn't want illegal immigrants in this country? He's talking about American values. Where's the racism when he talks to - about Hillary Clinton talking about black people as the superpredator...

INSKEEP: A remark that she apologized for from the '90s, right, go on.

JACKSON: Right. So my thing is everyone points to Donald Trump as being racist and a bigot. Well, I've met racists and bigots, and Donald Trump isn't one of them. He doesn't even come close to what a racist and a bigot is.

INSKEEP: And that's going to be our last word for this morning. Jon Jackson, thanks very much for coming all the way up from Milledgeville, Ga., this morning, really appreciate it. That's a long drive to Atlanta, and good luck to your wife, who's expecting. Tonya Hicks, thank you very much for joining us as well. It's great that you came.

HICKS: Thank you.

INSKEEP: And also Suzanne Menarcine, retired airline pilot and businesswoman, who came up from Macon, Ga., thanks to you.

MENARCINE: Thank you.

INSKEEP: It has been great to hear this analysis from voters in this divided state. We're in the state of Georgia this morning, and we're going to be continuing to listen to people from divided states as the debates continue. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
Scott Horsley is NPR's Chief Economics Correspondent. He reports on ups and downs in the national economy as well as fault lines between booming and busting communities.
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