Every time you think it’s already bad, the State of the Union under the Trump Administration somehow manages to get worse. In the direct aftermath of a wild White House administrative staff shakeup, disgusting immigration policy promotion, and a scolding by even the Boy Scouts, President Donald Trump managed to sink even lower by appearing to promote police brutality at an event for New York police officers in Brentwood, N.Y.
“Like when you guys put somebody in the car, and you’re protecting their head, you know, the way you put your hand over [their head], I said, ‘You can take the hand away, O.K.?’” he said to cheers from the crowd.
The backlash was immediate, with police departments and groups from across the country decrying the comments, including the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Police Foundation, the Los Angeles Police Department, the New Orleans Police Department, and members of the New York Police Department, leading the Trump Administration to backtrack. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders at the Press Briefing on the following Monday said, “I believe he was making a joke at the time.”
A joke, from the nation’s highest office, about police brutality – a racially-driven epidemic that has systematically targeted brown and even more intensively, Black bodies across the country for decades, with an undeniable spike in reported incidents in the past few years. It appears Trump is not fit to be a businessman, president, and now, even a stand-up comedian.
Was there something funny about the police sanctioned murders and subsequent media-driven tragedy porn that eclipsed the lives and legacies of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Walter Scott, Tamir Rice, Akai Gurley, Laquan McDonald, Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, or Trayvon Martin?
If so, please enlighten me, because I definitely missed it.
In relation to the string of names above and the many unspecified others, it should be noted that the it will take a lot more than a simple Twitter condemnation or even a slap-on-the-wrist style statement from our nation’s police officers for the true sting of Trump’s ugly endorsements of their sick behavior to go away – rather, we must see real reform, starting with body cameras, diversity and inclusion training, insistence on following basic protocol and most crucially: the demilitarization of vastly over-militarized police force.
And non-Black Muslims must speak up for our Black brothers and sisters, Muslim and non-Muslim alike. It is time we remembered that were it not for the battles fought by the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, we wouldn’t be sitting pretty as in our model minority [myth] privilege today.
Our silence is complicity on even seemingly inconsequential “jokes” like this. So let’s call out our leaders and hold them accountable, and demand real change – and leave the jokes to late-night hosts where they belong.