The Big Question That Wasn't Asked At Sunday's Debate

October 10th 2016

Lucy Tiven

At Sunday's presidential town hall debate, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton sparred on healthcare, foreign policy, and tax plans — as well as the recent scandal involving a 2005 tape of Trump's predatory remarks about women.


But one topic went ignored by the moderators, undecided voters — who posed questions at the town hall — and presidential hopefuls: police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement.

This came as a shock to many viewers, since the debate took place in St. Louis, Missouri — mere miles from Ferguson, where Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was fatally shot to death in August 2014 by white police officer Darren Wilson. Brown's killing ignited national conversations about police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Since Brown's death, police shootings across the country brought the issue of police brutality and tensions between law enforcement and black communities to the forefront of national discourse.

A comment from Trump about black Americans and violence in "inner cities" also spurred quite a bit of backlash.

Trump spoke about "the inner cities" several times during the debate including in response to a question from a voter, who asked "Do you believe you can be a devoted president to all the people in the United States?"

Trump's response, as a Vox transcript reports, included the line "I would be a president for all of the people. African-Americans, the inner cities. Devastating what's happening to our inner cities."


A question about race relations and police shootings did come up during the first presidential debate weeks earlier.

"The share of Americans who say race relations are bad in this country is the highest it's been in decades, much of it amplified by shootings of African Americans by police, as we've seen recently in Charlotte and Tulsa. Race has been a big issue in this campaign, and one of you is going to have to bridge a very wide and bitter gap," moderator Lester Holt said to the candidates. "So how do you heal the divide?"

In response, Trump said that Black and Hispanic people were "living in hell," as Fortune reports.

Trump has recently earned criticism for addressing violence in black communities in what critics have perceived as tone-deaf, inflammatory terms.