Trying to rally support amid the failure of the GOP’s healthcare bill, the expanding Trump-Russia inquiry, and chaos in the White House, Donald Trump spoke on Friday in Long Island, New York about effort against the gang Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, whipping up the issue as an existential crisis.
But the move may have backfired. Trump’s apparent endorsement of brutality — “Please don’t be too nice” has provoked police forces into renouncing the President.
Trump’s pledge “to destroy the vile criminal cartel, MS-13, and many other gangs” — also labelled as “animals” — led to endorsement of the use of military equipment (“that stuff is disappearing so fast we have none left”) and then the roughing-up of detainees:
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?
Trump’s remarks were greeted with applause and laughter. But soon there was a far different response from police forces, including the Suffolk County Police Department of Long Island:
As a department, we do not and will not tolerate roughing up of prisoners.
— Suffolk County PD (@SCPDHq) July 28, 2017
The Gainesville, Florida Police Department was emphatic:
The @POTUS made remarks today that endorsed and condoned police brutality.
GPD rejects these remarks and continues to serve with respect.
— Gainesville Police (@GainesvillePD) July 29, 2017
The International Association of Chiefs of Police issued a statement:
Law enforcement officers are trained to treat all individuals, whether they are a complainant, suspect, or defendant, with dignity and respect. This is the bedrock principle behind the concepts of procedural justice and police legitimacy.
— The IACP (@TheIACP) July 28, 2017
This is the second pointed rejection of a Trump speech in a week by his hosts. The head of the Boy Scouts had distanced the organization from a rambling Trump address in which he insulted Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, threatened senators over healthcare legislation, and put out innuendoes about real estate developer William Levitt’s sex-filled yacht parties.