President Trump’s recent remarks telling law enforcement officers to brutalize criminal suspects have received condemnation from many African-American leaders.
On July 28, Trump was speaking to a group of law enforcement officials in Long Island, N.Y. about the effort to fight the Latino-dominated MS-13 gang when he made the following comments: “When you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting their head, you know, the way you put your hand over?” the president said. “Don’t hit their head, and they just killed somebody – don’t hit their head . . . I said, you can take the hand away, okay?”
CBC Chairman Cedric Richmond blasted Trump’s recent pro-police brutality remarks. (ZACH GIBSON/AP)
The president prefaced the above statement by saying “please don’t be too nice.” Many Black leaders weren’t at all happy with what the president said.
The Congressional Black Caucus, with U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) as its chairman, sent out a tweet on July 29 that said, “your racially coded call for police violence is shameful; we need a Better Deal on justice, not a worse one.”
Charles P. Wilson, the national chairman of the National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers, called the president’s remarks irresponsible. “Comments such as those expressed by President Trump are not only irresponsible, unethical, unprofessional, and unacceptable but also promote a perception of tolerance for disrespect of the laws and professional standards that we, as law enforcement officers, have sworn our solemn oath to defend,” Wilson said in a statement obtained by the AFRO.
“These comments will ultimately cause not only a failure to remember that in every community policing initiative, community comes first but a danger to the lives of every law enforcement officer throughout the nation.”
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders Huckabee said that Trump was “joking” but many aren’t buying that. “He wasn’t joking,” Ronald Hampton, a former D.C. police officer and the chairman of the Institute of the Black World’s Police Reform Accountability Task Force, told the AFRO. “He was very serious. This is embarrassing.
“He doesn’t know law enforcement. An individual is presumed innocent until proven guilty. He’s ignorant and his comments give license to commit crimes against those people .
Despite the outcry from the Black community, Ralph J. Chittams Sr., principal of the firm Black Elephants Consultants LLC, said the president’s remarks should be viewed in totality. “People should not listen to the sound bites that are fed to by the media,” Chittams told the AFRO. “They need to take his speech in context and hear everything that was said. People should stop being reactionary to everything the media dictates. “Trump didn’t say that cops should beat people upside the head.”
National Action Network president and CEO the Rev. Al Sharpton blasted the president’s comments on July 29 saying they were “a reckless disregard for the law, and set the tone that is dangerous and biased in this country.”
On its July 28 blog, the International Association of Chiefs of Police took issue with the president’s comments. “Law enforcement officers are trained to treat all individuals, whether they are a complainant, suspect, or defendant, with dignity and respect,” the blog said. “This is the bedrock principle behind the concepts of a procedural justice and police legitimacy.”