White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday that President Trump considers the high-profile police shootings of black men to be "local matters" that federal officials should stay out of.
Asked for President Trump's response to the recent shooting of Stephon Clark in Sacramento, an unarmed black man killed by two officers in his grandmother’s backyard, Sanders said that, while it was "certainly a terrible incident," it was "a local matter" to be handled by local authorities.
When pressed about whether Trump had asked local authorities about the death of Eric Garner, the father of five who died after a police officer put him in a choke hold in Staten Island in 2014, Sanders said she was not aware of any specific action and reiterated that the president believed these were "local matters."
But people have taken to the streets in recent days in Sacramento and Baton Rouge, Louisiana — where the state attorney general announced that two white police officers will not be charged in the 2016 shooting death of Alton Sterling — to protest the killings and police violence more broadly. In Sacramento on Tuesday, hundreds of protesters took over the main foyer at City Hall and disrupted a special city council meeting.
"You said these are local issues. With respect, this seems to be an issue that the entire country is grappling with: These tensions of communities of color and police departments," NBC White House correspondent Kristen Welker said. "Does the president not need to show leadership on this issue?"
"We want to find ways to bring the country together," Sanders said. "But when it comes to the authority on the rulings that have taken place in the last few days, those are things that have to be done at a local level. They are not federal decisions at this time."
When Sanders was pressed further on whether the president feels "like he needs to do something" about black mothers fearing for their sons' lives, she responded:
"I think we should do every single thing we can every day to protect the people of this country — whether they're black, white, hispanic, male or female, rich or poor — we look for ways to protect the individuals in this country, particularly children."
Staten Island was misspelled in an earlier version of this post.