On Friday, during a speech to Long Island, New York, law enforcement officers, President Donald Trump seemed to condone police brutality.
"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, and I said, ‘Please don’t be too nice,’” Trump said. “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, OK?’”
In one anecdote, Trump remembered a conversation he'd had with a law enforcement officer from Chicago he praised as a "rough cookie." The president told the crowd that the officer had boasted to him that he could "straighten out" the city's notorious violence in "a couple of days" if given the authority.
“Police cannot treat every community like an invading army, and encouraging violence by police is irresponsible and reprehensible,” Zeke Johnson, senior director of programs at the United States chapter of Amnesty International, told HuffPost.
The tendency to do just that, especially when violence in the community seems outwardly uncontrollable, is both an authoritarian and human impulse. However, the truth of the matter is that when a police officer puts on their uniform, they are not like every other human anymore. Something more is required of them, and that something has been lost.
Instead of doing the work required to maintain an unwavering sense of integrity in a notoriously difficult profession, officers patrol neighborhoods with their fingers on the trigger, their judgment clouded by fear and often disdain for the communities they are supposed to help.
Trump reassured the crowd of police that "we're going to support you like you've never been supported before." That is perhaps the one thing the president got right in his whole speech, although only at face value. Police need better support from the government so that they can support their communities, but part of that means recognizing wrongdoing in the force, and then tackling it at its source. When we see a pattern of police violence across the nation like we do today, it's a sign that something needs to drastically change.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters