SANFORD, Florida (CNN) — Rallying supporters in this city where 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed, Donald Trump on Tuesday described African-Americans as “living in hell” and getting “shot” for simply walking in the street.
“African-Americans are living in hell and are living — in, in the inner cities, I mean, they’re living in hell. You walk to the store for a loaf of bread, you get shot,” Trump said, raising his voice as he said the word “shot.”
But he made no mention of Martin, who was unarmed when he was shot by George Zimmerman after returning from a 7-Eleven store where he had just bought a pack of Skittles. Zimmerman was acquitted of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges.
The line is one that Trump has used at dozens of rallies as he’s pitched himself to African-American voters, but could appear tone-deaf Trump delivered it here while at the same time failing to acknowledge the significance of his location.
The Trump campaign did not respond Tuesday to a request for comment, but in 2013 Trump said that he didn’t disagree with Zimmerman’s acquittal, but that Zimmerman was “no angel.”
Martin’s fatal shooting in Sanford kicked up a national debate — and reignited tensions — on race in America. Addressing the shooting from the White House, President Barack Obama would later say that if he had a son, he would have looked like Martin.
Tuesday’s remarks came as Trump once again urged African-Americans to break with the Democratic Party and support him — once again describing life as an African-American in America in desperate terms.
“I say to the African-American community and to the Hispanic community, what the hell do you have to lose? I will fix it. We will make them good. We will make them safe. We will bring back jobs. We will create good, good schools and education. I will fix it,” Trump said.
Trump has previously faced criticism from African-American leaders and Democratic officials for his description of African-American life as one of utter poverty, which does not match the reality of the lives of most African-Americans, and for equating “inner city” life with the lives of minority citizens. Trump has also issued his pitch to black voters while addressing predominantly white audiences, though he has made three forays into predominantly black churches in Michigan and Ohio.
During one of those stops, at a church in Flint, Michigan, he was heckled and the church’s black pastor also cut him off as he launched into a political speech attacking his opponent Hillary Clinton.
His support among African-American voters remains in the single digits.