His comments, delivered to a largely white audience in West Bend, Wisconsin, came on the heels of rioting in Milwaukee after the deadly shooting of a black man by a black police officer.
“Every time we rush to judgment with false facts and narratives, whether in Ferguson or in Baltimore, and foment further unrest, we do a direct disservice to poor African-American residents hurt by the high crime in their community — a big, big unfair problem,” Trump said Tuesday night at a campaign rally.
He acknowledged the unrest in Milwaukee and the protests against police before discussing shootings in Chicago.
He then called the “war on police a war on all peaceful citizens who want to be able to work and live and send their kids to school in safety,” including African-Americans in that group.
"Our job is to not make the job more comfortable for the rioter or the robber or the looter or the violent disrupter, of which there are many,” Trump said. “Our job is to make life more comfortable for the African-American parent who wants their kids to be able to safely walk the streets and walk to school.”
Past Appearances, or Lack Thereof
The decision to give such a speech in West Bend, which is 94.8 percent white, has raised eyebrows. The vast majority of the crowd at the event was white.
Trump has not held any events geared to reaching out specifically to African-American voters during the campaign, and he has declined several invitations to speak to groups such as the NAACP, the Urban League and a joint conference this month of the National Association of Black Journalists and National Association of Hispanic Journalists.
But Trump has held meetings with groups of African-American pastors, most of whom are now part of the National Diversity Coalition for Trump. Omarosa Manigault, who shot to fame as part of Trump's reality show “The Apprentice,” was named the director of African-American outreach for the Trump campaign during the Republican National Convention in Cleveland last month.
There was a stretch of several weeks when Trump regularly mentioned black youth unemployment in his stump speeches, claiming that 58 percent of African-American youths are unemployed, but he has stopped using that statistic.
His campaign based that number on 2015 Bureau of Labor Statistics data and included not only black Americans 16 to 24 who were unemployed but also those whom the federal government doesn’t count in the labor force — which at that age likely includes a number of full-time students not seeking work.
By the Numbers
Trump’s appeal to black voters comes as his poll numbers in the demographic dropped after the July conventions, according to the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, released Aug. 7.
Before the conventions, Clinton received support from 89 percent of registered black voters who were polled about a two-way race; Trump got only 4 percent.
After the conventions, that gap widened, with Clinton receiving 92 percent of black support and Trump receiving only 2 percent.
This is the biggest gap from the poll among any demographic — even bigger than among Democrats after the convention, who aligned themselves 92 percent with Clinton and 5 percent with Trump.
ABC News' Candace Smith contributed to this report.