Pulse of the Peninsula: Trump cheerleads for police brutality

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Pulse of the Peninsula: Trump cheerleads for police brutality

Is there anything more abominably Orwellian than Trump coming to Long Island, pretending to be the “Law & Order” guy while cheerleading police to engage in extra-judicial violence against “suspects” (who according to American jurisprudence, are “innocent until proven guilty”), at a time when systemic racism is responsible for disproportionate sentences for minorities (responsible for 6 million blacks not being able to vote) and underprivileged (no “affluenza” defense for them!), and extraordinary numbers of unarmed blacks murdered by police for such “capital” offenses as a broken headlight?

Indeed, his remark that police shouldn’t make an effort to be “too nice” when they stuff a suspect into a patrol car drew applause from the Suffolk police audience.

As the New York Times noted,

“This reaction must have been chilling for senior officials at the Suffolk County Police Department, which has good reason to distance itself from unconstitutional policing. In 2013, the department agreed to oversight by the Justice Department amid charges that it had discriminated against Latinos. And just last fall, its former chief, James Burke, was sentenced to federal prison in connection with the beating of a man who had stolen a duffel bag [containing sex toys] from his car.”

And just this week, Trump’s favorite sheriff, Joe Arpaio of Arizona famous for his tough stance against illegal immigration, just this week was found guilty of criminal contempt for violating the terms of a 2011 court order in a racial profiling case.

“Police departments are under increased scrutiny for violent, often fatal interactions with suspects.

So far this year, 574 people have been shot and killed by police, according to The Washington Post’s Fatal Force database. Last year, police shot and killed 963 people,” the Washington Post reported.

Trump spoke longingly of restoring military-grade equipment to police departments, or going back to the good ol’ days when police actions were unquestioned.

“We have your backs — believe me — we have your backs 100 percent,” he said. ‘Not like the old days.  Not like the old days.  (Applause.) You know, when you wanted to take over and you used military equipment — and they were saying you couldn’t do it — you know what I said?  That was my first day:  You can do it….”

This from the man who freely obstructs justice (and boasts about how clever he is), abuses his power (because he can), and asserts his unlimited power to pardon his family members, aides and even himself?

This is a man who has promotes torture, stop-and-frisk, who advocated the death penalty for the Central Park boys who were ultimately exonerated, whose rejection of norms and his embrace of “disruption” (more accurately “dysfunction”) go to overturning the Rule of Law, the most important premise underlying American democracy: no man is above the law.

It was the American Heroes theme-of-the-week that brought him to Long Island — the guy who dodged the Vietnam War but with a tweet would de-humanize transgender individuals and deny them their right to serve in the military — where he sought to change the subject (Russia, Obamacare, Jeff Sessions) and reignite the love from his base by inflaming hatred against Hispanics.

Hence the focus on the MS 13 gang, conflating gang members with all Hispanic immigrants and, throwing in “radical Islamic terrorism.”

“We’re liberating our towns.  I never thought I’d be standing up here talking about liberating the towns on Long Island where I grew up, but that’s what you’re doing. And I can tell you, I saw some photos where Tom’s guys — rough guys.  They’re rough.  I don’t want to be — say it because they’ll say that’s not politically correct.  You’re not allowed to have rough people doing this kind of work…

“Now, we’re getting them out anyway, but we’d like to get them out a lot faster.  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 — I said, please don’t be too nice.  (Laughter.)  Like when you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting their head, you know, the way you put their 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?  (Laughter and applause.)

Police departments pushed back against Trump’s cheerleading for extra-judicial brutality (recall the Freddie Gray case in Baltimore), but frontline officers, who applauded, may well take away the wink-and-nod.

Indeed, courts almost invariably absolve officers of criminal responsibility when they kill suspects, even as egregiously as Tulsa police Officer Betty Jo Shelby, who killed unarmed motorist Terence Crutcher.

As Sally Yates, the acting attorney general who Trump fired when she refused to enforce his unconstitutional Travel Ban (but more likely, because she raised alarms about his NSA guy, Michael Flynn), stated in a New York Times op-ed, Trump “is attempting to dismantle the rule of law, destroy the time-honored independence of the Justice Department, and undermine the career men and women who are devoted to seeking justice day in and day out, regardless of which political party is in power.

“If we are not careful,” she said,  “when we wake up from the Trump presidency, our justice system may be broken beyond recognition.”

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