TRUMP ENDORSES POLICE BRUTALITY, ESPECIALLY IF THUGS AREN’T WHITE
Last July, President Trump delivered a speech to a group of police officers and couldn’t resist returning to one of his favorite memes from his campaign trail. Violence from authority. Violence as authority. “Please don’t be too nice” to the “thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon,” Trump advised the officers. Be “rough.” As has happened far too often before, his audience of police officers responded with… applause. Activists and pundits reacted with shock, as did millions of others so informed.
“IT’S ALL A JOKE” IS WHITE HOUSE RESPONSE WHEN NO ONE LAUGHS BUT POLICE AUDIENCE
Backpedaling as part of the formula from the campaign trail as well, the White House insisted that portion of the speech was, of course, merely a joke. But even Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who is also known as the top law enforcement officer of the United Sates, sought to distance himself from the ensuing outcry and controversy. And this is the Jeff Sessions who has his own history of encouraging the worst aspects of police brutality on the job. Yet for President Trump, we are seeing a consistent pattern of the endorsement of police brutality, especially when aimed at minorities.
JOE ARPAIO TERRORIZED, TORTURED AND ABUSED LATINO INMATES FOR 20 YEARS
For more than 20 years, Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona terrorized Latino communities, harassed immigrants, and made life a living hell for prisoners in his care in order to build a reputation as “America’s toughest sheriff”. These systematic violations of human and constitutional rights eventually landed Arpaio in legal trouble of his own. Then President Trump pardoned him.
ARPAIO HELD IN CONTEMPT, IGNORES COURT DIRECTION FOR 18 MONTHS
Arpaio had been awaiting sentencing for a July conviction of criminal contempt. Back in 2011, a federal judge ordered Arpaio to stop targeting and detaining Latinos just to inquire about their immigration status. Nevertheless, Arpaio persisted for another 18 months, insisting that his racial profiling was lawful. He emasculated inmates, forcing them to wear pink underwear, and attempted to starve them with food that was called inedible.
ARPAIO TORTURED, POSSIBLE MURDERED MANY INMATES, TRUMP CALLS HIM PATRIOT
He tortured them, too: Beginning in the 1990s, Arpaio opened Tent City Jail, which forced inmates to live outside in the extreme Arizona heat. An untold number of inmates died. To the law, Arpaio is a convicted criminal who built his career on denying the constitutional and human rights of the most vulnerable among us. To Trump, he’s “a patriot” who kept “Arizona safe.”
“Throughout his time as sheriff,” a White House statement bleated, “Arpaio continued his life’s work of protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration.” In other words, the innocent immigrants who were harassed, and the prisoners who were tortured, were the real criminals.
“LAW AND ORDER” TRUMP IS ALL ABOUT RACIAL PROFILING, FAVORITISM AND NEPOTISM
Trump promised to be the “law and order candidate” during his campaign. He codified this promise once he became president in the “Standing Up For Our Law Enforcement Community” section of the White House website. “The Trump administration will be a law and order administration,” it echoed.
For the president, it seems, “standing up” for law enforcement includes allowing officers to subvert the rule of law to commit acts of brutality with impunity. Empowering law enforcement to “keep our streets free of crime and violence” means supporting racial profiling. And “law and order” only applies to some, namely those that support the president.
With Trump’s pardon of Arpaio, a message has been sent: When it comes to police brutality of the kind Arpaio perpetuated for decades, the Trump administration won’t simply be complicit in it. It will promote it.
And that’s nothing to joke about.