Frank Vyan Walton has written an on-target piece on Donald Trump’s remarks Friday favoring and encouraging police brutality.
In case you missed The Don’s speech to uniformed police officers and a few families of the victims of criminal violence at Long Island’s Suffolk County Community College, here’s the wretched man’s words:
“When you see these towns and 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,” Trump said during a speech at Suffolk County Community College. “Like when you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting their head, you know, the way you put their hand over, 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?” [...]
“For years and years, [laws have] been made to protect the criminal,” the president added. “Totally protect the criminal, not the officers. You do something wrong, you’re in more jeopardy than they are. These laws are stacked against you. We’re changing those laws.”
It was despicable. Untruthful. Incendiary. But this sort of talk is nothing new coming from the guy who more than once incited audiences to violence against dissidents and media during his campaign for the presidency. The worst part of his wholly unsurprising words was the reaction of the officers in the room who gave him sustained cheers and applause for urging them to rough up those they arrest. Some may argue that the pr*sident’s words were only meant to include allegedly violent gang members, specifically MS-13. But such bombast never reverberates so narrowly.
Those words of Trump’s were chilling to any Americans, especially people of color, who have been arrested (full disclosure: that’s 67 times for me). Getting roughed up or beaten up by cops happens on a daily basis somewhere in the United States. Having officers respond with joy and enthusiasm to suggestions that they need not worry about hurting the people they arrest proves, once again, how desperately we need police reform. As Frank Walton so rightly puts it: “So now we know it’s really not just a few bad apples, it’s a few bad bunches.”
The reaction from law enforcement authorities outside the room Friday was considerably different than what happened inside.
The International Association of Chiefs of Police issued a lengthy statement saying officers are trained to treat all people with "dignity and respect."
"Law enforcement officers are trained to treat all individuals, whether they are a complainant, suspect, or defendant, with dignity and respect. This is the bedrock principle behind the concepts of procedural justice and police legitimacy."
No doubt that training is happening. Several years back, I observed it myself in a week of following cadets around at the Los Angeles Police Academy.
But guys? It’s not working. The proof is in the flood of amateur videos showing police actions, in the personal experience of countless Americans, and in the response of those officers in the audience on Long Island.
Trump’s words obviously resonated with those cops. And they know that their bosses, whatever those leaders say about “dignity and respect” and the quality of training being offered, will do their utmost to protect them from serious disciplinary action should they follow the pr*sident’s advice to treat suspects roughly, just as they have done since before anyone now alive was born.