In a speech Friday to police officers at a community college on Long Island, President Donald Trump appeared to encourage them to treat suspects roughly and not to take steps to protect them from injury. “And 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,” he said. “I said, ‘Please don’t be too nice.’ Like when you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting their head—the way you put the 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, okay?'”
President urges officers to commit acts of brutality, officers laugh and cheer wildly. Beginning to think problem isn’t a few bad apples. pic.twitter.com/o1sSgw6lGy
— Matthew Gertz (@MattGertz) July 28, 2017
The moment came as Trump addressed the officers about federal law enforcement efforts to combat MS-13, the gang with ties to Central America that administration officials regularly invoke in making their case for a stronger law-and-order regime and tougher immigration policy. Long Island has seen a number of high-profile murders in recent months committed by members of the gang. Trump issued an executive order in February creating a task force on violent crime that will make recommendations to his administration about how to combat such organizations.
Trump’s speech immediately drew criticism on Twitter for appearing to encourage police brutality:
What police department is lined up behind Trump, applauding a call for police brutality?
— George Zornick (@gzornick) July 28, 2017
Trump is speaking before a group of police right now, and he is literally and overtly encouraging police brutality and rough rides.
— leah mcelrath 🗽 (@leahmcelrath) July 28, 2017
President Trump is openly and explicitly calling for, to wild applause just moments ago, cops to commit more police brutality.
— Asawin Suebsaeng (@swin24) July 28, 2017
Trump encouraging police brutality in his Brentwood vaudeville act is why some folks hate & mistrust cops. This helps no one/solves nothing.
— Jeffrey Wright (@jfreewright) July 28, 2017
And disturbing to hear applause from the cops as Trump advocates for police brutality https://t.co/horfKMwoll
— Patrick Caldwell (@patcaldwell) July 28, 2017