In an interview with FRANCE 24, veteran US civil rights leader Al Sharpton criticised President Donald Trump for his divisive rhetoric as well as his missteps on race relations and other issues. "He has become the polarizer-in-chief in this country," Sharpton said.
Sharpton also lashed out at Trump for allegedly making insensitive remarks to the widow of a US soldier killed in an ambush in Niger. Trump denies saying that the slain 25-year-old soldier "knew what he was signing up for".
The US civil rights leader hailed the "sense of courage" of the many NFL players who have chosen to #TakeAKnee in protest during the national anthem. Sharpton says Trump's angry reaction to the players' protests are a "switch-and-bait" tactic to avoid real issues such as police brutality.
Asked whether he thought that, deep down, Trump is a racist, Sharpton said: "Deep down, he is the only one that knows."
But Sharpton added that the president certainly plays on and “channels” racism, going on to criticise Trump's ambivalent attitude to the white supremacists who rallied last summer in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Sharpton also defended former US president Barack Obama’s record on race relations, arguing that Obama did more than "any president since Lyndon Johnson" for black Americans and that Trump’s election was a "backlash" against those achievements.