FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Trump’s Dangerous Delusions on Police Brutality

by

Donald Trump often seems more shock jock than president. He likes to shock, say or tweet outrageous things, prove that he’s not just another politician. But now he is president; his words have impact, and his posturing can be dangerous.

Last week, he essentially endorsed police brutality before a gathering of police officers in Long Island: “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.’ ”

His remarks received significant applause, but hours later the Suffolk County Police Department issued a statement making it clear that it “will not tolerate roughing up of prisoners.”

The cries of Baltimore’s Freddy Gray, of Amadou Diallo, Manuel Loggins Jr., Ronald Madison, Kendra James, Sean Bell, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Alton Sterling and many more could be heard from their graves. Each was a black man or woman who died at the hands of police.

Trump’s words are not simply bluster; his Attorney General Jeff Sessions is intent on turning them into policy. Sessions has scorned the Obama administration’s efforts to review police misconduct and to forge consent agreements on reforms with police departments from Chicago to Baltimore. He spreads the myth that reform handicaps law enforcement. In a nation that locks up more of its people than any in the world, he’s instructed U.S. attorneys to seek the harshest penalties available for those found guilty of violating the law.

Over the last decade, from Ferguson to Chicago to New York to Baltimore, our cities have witnessed major demonstrations and more in response to police brutality. Black Lives Matter demonstrations — remarkable nonviolent, civil disobedience — put police reform on the national agenda.

We began to see a bipartisan consensus emerging around sentencing reform, closing down privately owned for-profit prisons and reforming police practices from body cameras to community policing.

This reform consensus was emerging because police brutality not only tramples individual rights; it also impedes community law enforcement. It breeds anger and cuts off community cooperation. Police become seen as occupiers, not allies. The poorest neighborhoods in our urban areas are tinderboxes; too often, it is police brutality that sets them afire.

The Obama administration’s 13-month review of Chicago’s police force was completed just before Trump was inaugurated. It praised the “diligent efforts and brave actions of countless” officers, and paid tribute to the tough task they have. Yet it found that “a break in trust” impeded the police force’s ability to prevent crime: “trust and effectiveness in combating violent crime are inextricably linked,” it concluded, calling for broad, fundamental reform of police in Chicago.

Trump and Sessions disagree. They think, as Trump put it, that the laws “totally protect the criminal, not the officers. … (Officers are) in more jeopardy than (criminals) are. We’re changing those laws.”

This displays an utter ignorance of the reality of police misconduct and its victims. It is also dangerous. It gives a green light to those who would trample basic rights and mocks those who follow the laws. It encourages departments to turn a blind eye to their own practices.

In Newark, a consent decree reform agreement led to a dramatic reduction in crime. Its monitor, Peter Harvey, said reform helps police do their jobs.

“Remember, it’s the community that helps you police,” Harvey said. “Very few cities have enough cops to patrol a city 24-7 effectively, 12 months a year. You need the community to help you.” And the community won’t help if you “place community residents in chokeholds where they die, and then turn around and say, ‘Well, we want to be your friend.’ Those are inconsistent messages.”

Frustrated in Washington, Mr. Trump likes to rouse his base in speeches like that in Long Island. But these words are trouble, and his policies are worse. Across America, police reform is long overdue. What Trump and Sessions make clear is that, as long as they are in office, it will have to come from the bottom up, in the face of dangerous delusions at the top.

More articles by:

Jesse Jackson is the founder of Rainbow/PUSH.

Weekend Edition
February 23, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Richard D. Wolff
Capitalism as Obstacle to Equality and Democracy: the US Story
Paul Street
Where’s the Beef Stroganoff? Eight Sacrilegious Reflections on Russiagate
Jeffrey St. Clair
They Came, They Saw, They Tweeted
Andrew Levine
Their Meddlers and Ours
Charles Pierson
Nuclear Nonproliferation, American Style
Joseph Essertier
Why Japan’s Ultranationalists Hate the Olympic Truce
W. T. Whitney
US and Allies Look to Military Intervention in Venezuela
John Laforge
Maybe All Threats of Mass Destruction are “Mentally Deranged”
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: an American Reckoning
David Rosen
For Some Reason, Being White Still Matters
Robert Fantina
Nikki Haley: the U.S. Embarrassment at the United Nations
Joyce Nelson
Why Mueller’s Indictments Are Hugely Important
Joshua Frank
Pearl Jam, Will You Help Stop Sen. Tester From Destroying Montana’s Public Lands?
Dana E. Abizaid
The Attack on Historical Perspective
Conn Hallinan
Immigration and the Italian Elections
George Ochenski
The Great Danger of Anthropocentricity
Pete Dolack
China Can’t Save Capitalism from Environmental Destruction
Joseph Natoli
Broken Lives
Manuel García, Jr.
Why Did Russia Vote For Trump?
Geoff Dutton
One Regime to Rule Them All
Torkil Lauesen – Gabriel Kuhn
Radical Theory and Academia: a Thorny Relationship
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: The Work of Persuasion
Thomas Klikauer
Umberto Eco and Germany’s New Fascism
George Burchett
La Folie Des Grandeurs
Howard Lisnoff
Minister of War
Eileen Appelbaum
Why Trump’s Plan Won’t Solve the Problems of America’s Crumbling Infrastructure
Ramzy Baroud
More Than a Fight over Couscous: Why the Palestinian Narrative Must Be Embraced
Jill Richardson
Mass Shootings Shouldn’t Be the Only Time We Talk About Mental Illness
Jessicah Pierre
Racism is Killing African American Mothers
Steve Horn
Wyoming Now Third State to Propose ALEC Bill Cracking Down on Pipeline Protests
David Griscom
When ‘Fake News’ is Good For Business
Barton Kunstler
Brainwashed Nation
Griffin Bird
I’m an Eagle Scout and I Don’t Want Pipelines in My Wilderness
Edward Curtin
The Coming Wars to End All Wars
Missy Comley Beattie
Message To New Activists
Jonah Raskin
Literary Hubbub in Sonoma: Novel about Mrs. Jack London Roils the Faithful
Binoy Kampmark
Frontiersman of the Internet: John Perry Barlow
Chelli Stanley
The Mirrors of Palestine
James McEnteer
How Brexit Won World War Two
Ralph Nader
Absorbing the Irresistible Consumer Reports Magazine
Cesar Chelala
A Word I Shouldn’t Use
Louis Proyect
Marx at the Movies
Osha Neumann
A White Guy Watches “The Black Panther”
Stephen Cooper
Rebel Talk with Nattali Rize: the Interview
David Yearsley
Market Music
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail