Prior to the death of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray, Wakeshia Wilson, and Philando Castile, police brutality had been a heavy topic for Black America, dating back to historical events like the ‘1992 L.A. Uprising,’ the police beating of Rodney King, and the death of LaTasha Harlins.
One would think police brutality isn’t a laughing matter. However, President Trump believes otherwise.
“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,’ ”said Trump during a speech urging Congress to fund his administration’s crackdown on illegal immigration and violent crime.
He continued by telling officers there was no need for police to use their hands to protect the heads of people who are under arrest as they are being put into cars.
“Like, when you guys put somebody in the car and you protecting their head, ya’ know the way you put your hand over their head, like don’t hit their head and they just killed somebody. I said you can take the hand away OK?’”
As President Trump made his statement, law enforcement officials applauded, laughed, and smiled.
The comments made by the president are not surprising however, his words still hit home for Blacks across the U.S. especially Baltimoreans who remember the death of 25-year-old Gray, who was arrested in West Baltimore after he ran from officers. Prosecutors argued that Gray should not have been arrested in the first place and that he was given a “rough ride” when he was in the back of the police vehicle. After riding in the vehicle, he was found unresponsive and not breathing. Gray died in a hospital a week later.
Incidents similar to Gray’s should not be taken lightly and certainly not be made fun of. Last year, The Guardian found U.S. police killed at least 258 Black people, 39 of these people were unarmed, four were killed by police stun guns, and nine died in custody.
Recently, the Sentinel had a chance to speak with retired LAPD Sergeant and author Cheryl Dorsey and Congresswoman Karen Bass on the President’s recent remarks.
“Trump’s rhetoric is a slap in the face to the reforms and consent decrees done during the Obama Administration,” said Bass. “I think the Congressional Black Caucus was spot on when they labelled his remarks as a call for police violence. Unfortunately though, this is nothing new for him. Throughout his campaign, he’s made dog-whistle appeals to his base and this is yet another dangerous instance that will embolden the worst our police forces have to offer.”
Sgt. Dorsey also believes the president’s comments were inappropriate and unacceptable.
“As a sergeant of police [supervisor] responsible for investigating police misconduct, I find the president’s comments to be outrageous and diametrically opposed to police policy and protocol,” Dorsey said. “Given the current environment and hostilities between minority communities and the police, encouraging abuse under the color of authority by the president of the United States is irresponsible. Those remarks may give license to some officers who may already be predisposed to [abusing] their authority. Words matter.”