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Elijah Cummings calls GOP front-runner Donald Trump "dangerous"

Elijah Cummings calls GOP front-runner Donald Trump "dangerous"
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., claps during a campaign event featuring Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at City Garage in Baltimore, Sunday, April 10, 2016. (Patrick Semansky / AP)

Rep. Elijah Cummings called Donald Trump "dangerous" and said during a journalism conference in Baltimore on Saturday that the leading Republican candidate "turns us as Americans against each other."

"When you have someone who is the number one candidate in the Republican Party, who spews out language that basically makes people feel comfortable with doing some violent things and who turns us as Americans against each other, that's a problem," the Baltimore Democrat said at the National Association of Black Journalists Region 1 Conference at Morgan State University.

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"He has gotten people who are frustrated, who are angry, who I think in many instances are racists," Cummings said of Trump supporters.

Trump swept the primaries in Maryland and four other states Tuesday to further solidify his lead in the Republican presidential nominating contest. The billionaire New York real estate developer got 54 percent of the vote in Maryland, followed by John Kasich with 23 percent.

A spokeswoman for Trump's campaign did not respond to requests for comment.

Hillary Clinton won the Democratic primary in Maryland with 63 percent of the vote. Cummings has endorsed Clinton.

Cummings predicted that Trump and Clinton would clinch the nominations and face each other in the November general election. While the congressman criticized Trump and his message, Cummings also said that he expects black lawmakers will be tougher on Clinton than they were on President Barack Obama.

"They see him as a son they never had," Cummings said.

While Obama did a "hell of a job" as president, Cummings said he was "too careful" at times with issues that affected the black community.

Cummings touched on a myriad of issues during an interview with WJZ anchor Vic Carter in front of a crowd of more than 50 student journalists and conference attendees.

Cummings said the water contamination crisis in Flint, Mich., and Freddie Gray's death in Baltimore have left people feeling frustrated and forgotten.

A number of issues need to be addressed in Baltimore, including jobs, education and transportation, Cummings said. He also called for better training and vetting of police officers, and more interaction between officers and citizens.

He said he has witnessed black men being humiliated by police in Baltimore. In one instance, he said, police demanded that a teenager drop his pants. The young man was waiting for the bus with his girlfriend at the time.

"I used to say that there were a few bad apples, but the more that I look at it, I see that there are more bad apples," he said. Still, he emphasized that "the community needs the police, and the police needs the community."

"What will it take to bring Baltimore to a level where we don't have to worry about these types of things happening again?" Carter asked.

Cummings said he wanted to be helpful but added: "I don't think that will happen in my lifetime."

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Police Commissioner Kevin Davis, who appeared at another conference event later in the day, said the department has been working to improve police-community relations. He also said he is working to identify officers who aren't fit for duty.

Since Jan. 1, he said he has fired five officers and that five more have resigned in lieu of termination. Davis also said that in his first year as commissioner, three officers have been criminally charged for on-duty conduct.

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