After a Weekend of Police Brutality, Trump Demands More Violence

“If you don’t dominate, you’re wasting your time.”

Mother Jones illustration; Joel Marklund/Bildbyran/ZUMA; Jim Vondruska/NurPhoto/ZUMA; Getty

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As the country reels from nearly a week of intense protests marked by countless acts of police brutality, President Donald Trump on Monday pressured governors to deploy more aggressive and violent tactics against protesters, telling them they would look like “jerks” if they didn’t get tougher. He also threatened to unleash the powers of the Justice Department in order to empower law enforcement officials to “fight back” against demonstrators.

“You have to dominate,” Trump said on a private call with governors, according to reporting by multiple news outlets that obtained a recording of the explosive conversation. “If you don’t dominate, you’re wasting your time. They’re going to run over you. You’re going to look like a bunch of jerks.”

“You’ve got to arrest people,” he continued. “You have to track people, you have to put them in jail for 10 years, and you’ll never see this stuff again.”

The seething remarks—which appear to rely on the same playbook Trump has used to blame governors for his administration’s disastrous coronavirus response—are all but certain to fuel the outrage reverberating throughout the country in the wake of George Floyd’s killing by a white police officer. They come against the backdrop of widely seen videos capturing police across the country attacking protesters.

Trump’s recent comments—which included an incendiary tweet warning that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts”—have served only to heighten tensions. Despite drawing fierce condemnation over the tweet, he subsequently threatened to unleash “the most vicious dogs” on protesters and baselessly accused Democrats and the media of fueling unrest.

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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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