Moderator Kristen Welker, who is Black, asked Trump whether his language describing Black Lives Matter as a symbol of hate, contributed “to a climate of hate and racial strife.”
In response, Trump brought up an anti-police chant that he and his campaign have frequently used, without context, to malign and criticize the Black Lives Matter movement, which for years has mobilized tens of thousands of largely peaceful and decentralized demonstrations for racial justice and against police brutality.
“The first time I ever heard of Black Lives Matter, they were chanting ‘pigs in a blanket’ talking about police,” Trump said. “Pigs, talking about our police. ‘Pigs in a blanket, fry them like bacon.’ I said that’s a horrible thing. And they were marching down the street. That was my first glimpse of Black Lives Matter.”
Trump then went on to say he was “the least racist person in this room.”
In a July tweet criticizing New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio for painting a Black Lives Matter sign on 5th Avenue, Trump referred to the “horrible BLM chant, ‘Pigs In A Blanket, Fry ‘Em Like Bacon.’”
As CNN reported in July, those words were chanted at a 2015 protest march held by a group in St. Paul, Minnesota, that was independent of, and not affiliated with, the national Black Lives Matter organization.
Rashad Turner, the organizer of the protest, told the St. Paul Pioneer Press at the time that the chant was not promoting violence against police, but to express that police who kill Black people should “fry” as other murderers do.
The chant lasted about 30 seconds during the hours-long march, protesters told the paper.
A police field supervisor overseeing the protest reportedly commented after the chant, “Everybody likes bacon. I think we can all get behind that.”
CNN’s fact-checkers reported that they could find no evidence that chant was used by the Black Lives Matter national organization or by BLM activists outside Minnesota.
Since the 2015 protest, there have been thousands of Black Lives Matter protests, many of which are organized by independent groups or individuals who align themselves with the movement’s call for racial justice, but who are not affiliated with the national organization.
So, while CNN could not say for certain that this particular chant had never been used at any other protests, it is definitely not an official chant or slogan used or endorsed by the Black Lives Matter movement.
In a year marked by anti-racism protests over the police killings and shootings of Black people, Trump and his campaign have constantly mischaracterized these protesters as violent, while using dog whistles and overt appeals to far-right violent groups and white supremacists.
During the first presidential debate, Trump told the Proud Boys, a far-right men’s organization with a history of instigating violence, to “stand back and stand by,” prompting celebration among members who heeded it as a call to action.