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Black voters 'frustrated' by Trump debate comments

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United States

Some African American voters find it frustrating and exhausting that President Donald Trump did not condemn white supremacist groups and their role in violence in some US cities this summer.

Instead President Trump during the presidential debate on Tuesday branding the violence as solely a "left-wing" problem.

"Almost everything I see is from the left wing, not from the right wing," said Trump, whose exchange with Democrat Joe Biden left the extremist group Proud Boys celebrating what some of its members saw as tacit approval.

He was responding to a question from debate moderator Chris Wallace, who asked the president if he would condemn white supremacist and militia groups that have shown up at some protests. Wallace specifically mentioned Kenosha, Wisconsin, where a white teenager was charged with killing two protesters during demonstrations over the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man. Trump has repeatedly blamed "antifa," which stands for the anti-fascist movement.

Delaware voters Gwendolyn Deshields and Cory Deshields watched the debate and saw it as an embarrassment to the American public.

"It's very sad, it's a circus," Gwendolyn Deshields said. "It was just like Oh, my goodness because, you know, you just got weigh between the two, but last night was just like change the channel."

In his response, Trump addressed the Proud Boys, a far-right extremist group that has shown up at protests in the Pacific Northwest, saying they should "stand back, and stand by."

Elihu Wilson, another voter visiting DC from Louisiana, found Trump's choice of words to be strange and peculiar.

"Trump supporters might say he just made a mistake. He just worded something wrong," Wilson said. 

Some people might be like that is what he really believes, you know, that there's some people that's on his side... So just that that whole debacle. It didn't make too much sense. Really."

Cory Deshields said it's a classic Trump move to not directly answer a yes or no question, and instead leave some wiggle room for different interpretations.

"Racism and white supremacy and things like that. He hasn't really given his stand on what he believes and what he thinks is right. And I think that's messed up," Cory Deshields said. "I think our leaders should, we should know his or her stand. We should know their mindset towards things that matter to us. If you're going to lead us as a country and we need to know who we're following. And right now, he's given us, you know, an example of someone that I don't think anyone really wants to follow."

Biden has said he decided to run for president after Trump said there were "very fine people" on both sides of a 2017 protest led by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a counterprotester was killed.

Trump said Tuesday that Biden was afraid to say the words "law and order" and pressed him to give examples of law enforcement groups that back his campaign.

The Deshields already planned to visit Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington DC the day after the presidential debate, and welcomed the quick getaway as a reminder that some progress is being made toward social justice and racial equality.

"It's becoming exhausting," Gwendolyn Deshields said. "When are we going to like have someone in that position to just start showing peace and calm and stop the tension. It's just this is getting out of hand, and just to see (the plaza), it kind of brings you that calm, like, you know, it still can happen. As long as we keep our feet on the pedal. Don't let up."