On Friday (July 28), President Donald Trump advocated for violence against arrestees during a speech to cheering members of law enforcement in Long Island, New York. In the video below, Trump says:
When you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon, you just see them thrown in, rough, I said, “Please don’t be too nice.” Like when you guys put somebody in the car, and you’re protecting their head, you know, the way you put [your] hand, like don’t hit their head, and they’ve just killed somebody. Don’t hit their head. I said, “You can take the hand away, okay?”
Trump on handling suspected criminals: “Don’t be too nice” to “thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon” https://t.co/rZyICcW4Yr— NBC News (@NBCNews) July 28, 2017
According to The Washington Post’s fatal police force database, at least 232 people of color have been killed by American police so far in 2017. In April 2015, Freddie Gray died after a “rough ride,” when Baltimore police threw him into the back of a paddy wagon and drove him around unrestrained.
Activists, journalists, actors and politicians immediately responded to the speech:
Trump just encouraged police to brutalize people on live tv.— Zerlina Maxwell (@ZerlinaMaxwell) July 28, 2017
Everything is fine.
Freddie Gray’s family probably wants to know if officers will protect Trump’s head when he is thrown into the back of a paddy wagon.— Maxine Waters (@MaxineWaters) July 30, 2017
Note that Trump and many in his admin are currently under criminal investigation but won’t have to fear the police being “rough” with them.— Samuel Sinyangwe (@samswey) July 28, 2017
Trump encouraging police brutality in his Brentwood vaudeville act is why some folks hate & mistrust cops. This helps no one/solves nothing.— Jeffrey Wright (@jfreewright) July 28, 2017
Law enforcement agencies and organizations—including those that have been implicated in fatal instances of police violence—also reacted to the comments with statements that seem to run counter to the current state of policing in America:
As a former Police Chief I am deeply disappointed and disturbed by President Trump’s statement on use of force. pic.twitter.com/wh5l33hIvu— Rep. Val Demings (@RepValDemings) July 29, 2017
The @POTUS made remarks today that endorsed and condoned police brutality.— Gainesville Police (@GainesvillePD) July 29, 2017
GPD rejects these remarks and continues to serve with respect.
As a department, we do not and will not tolerate roughing up of prisoners.— Suffolk County PD (@SCPDHq) July 28, 2017
READ: The NYPD has responded to Trump’s remarks encouraging police to rough up people they arrest. pic.twitter.com/9nMIkB3UTE— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) July 29, 2017
NEW: International Association of Chiefs of Police issues statement on use of force following Trump’s speech to law enforcement officers. pic.twitter.com/DtUTZnyrOm— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) July 29, 2017
Meanwhile, the Fraternal Order of Police tweeted its support for Trump and said that media and “professional police critics” are taking the president “too literally”:
FOP (@GLFOP) July 29, 2017
And Vanita Gupta—the president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights who used to head the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division—called out Attorney General Jeff Sessions—who is charged with overseeing the nation’s law enforcement practices—for his silence:
So important that law enforcement is blasting Trump for endorsing police brutality. But silence from AG Sessions is deafening. https://t.co/ns5HAkyZ82— Vanita Gupta (@vanitaguptaCR) July 30, 2017