Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump defended claims proven false that some U.S. Muslims cheered the Sept. 11 attacks -- also defending the assault of a black protester during a campaign rally. Trump also generated controversy after posting a misleading statistic on social media on Sunday. Photo by Brian Kersey/UPI | License Photo
WASHINGTON, Nov. 23 (UPI) -- Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is on the defense after coming under attack for saying he observed some U.S. Muslims cheering the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and for the assault of a black protester during his campaign rally.
At the rally in Birmingham, Ala., on Saturday, Trump said he watched "thousands and thousands of people" in Jersey City, N.J., cheer the fall of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, implying some Muslims living in the United States were happy with the deadly attacks.
"It did happen. I saw it," Trump told ABC on Sunday, adding that those cheers came from "large Arab populations" in New Jersey.
"It was on television. I saw it," Trump said.
That story of cheering Muslims has often been tied to an incident in Paterson, not Jersey City, and local officials have repeatedly denied the incident happened. There is no news coverage of the incident and no evidence corroborating it otherwise.
The Anti-Defamation League called Trump's claims "irresponsible." Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said Trump "has memory issues or willfully distorts the truth, either of which should be concerning for the Republican Party." Paterson Police Commissioner Jerry Speziale said Trump's claims were "totally false."
"That is patently false. That never happened. There were no flags burning, no one was dancing," Speziale told The Washington Post.
At the same Birmingham rally, Trump continued to call for the surveillance of Muslims at "certain mosques." A black protester, Mercutio Southall, was also allegedly assaulted by several Trump supporters.
Southall reportedly shouted "black lives matter" and "dump Trump" in an attempt to disrupt Trump's speech. He said he was pushed down, punched and kicked.
No arrests were made after the incident and Southall did not require medical attention. Southall said he felt he was being "swarmed" as he faced a "lynch mob."
When the subject was brought up during an interview on Fox News Channel on Sunday, Trump said Southall possibly had it coming.
"Maybe he should have been roughed up, because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing," Trump told Fox News. "I have a lot of fans, and they were not happy about it. And this was a very obnoxious guy who was a troublemaker who was looking to make trouble."
Trump also generated controversy after posting a misleading statistic on social media on Sunday
An image titled "USA CRIME STATISTICS ~ 2015" offered some numbers attributed to the Crime Statistics Bureau in San Francisco -- a bureau that has yet to be located. The image shows a black male holding a pistol sideways while wearing military combat boots, camouflage pants and a bandana and mask.
The image Trump posted said 97 percent of black people were killed by other black people. This statistic is close to official U.S. Department of Justice statistics, which reported 93 percent of black homicides were committed by other blacks between 1980 and 2008. In 2014, about 90 percent of black homicides were committed by blacks.
The most seemingly erroneous statistic, when compared to the Justice Department, is the white-on-white homicide.
The image Trump posted said 16 percent of whites were killed by other whites, but the Justice Department reports 84 percent of whites were killed by other whites from 1980 to 2008. In 2014, 82 percent of whites were killed by other whites.