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CALL TO ARMS?

Donald Trump encouraged cops to be rough with suspects, while police laughed and cheered

AP Photo/Evan Vucci
The crowd was enthusiastic.
  • Hanna Kozlowska
By Hanna Kozlowska

Investigative reporter

This article is more than 2 years old.

In a speech today, president Donald Trump encouraged police officers to be rough with suspects, essentially endorsing brutal behavior that has plagued US police forces for decades.

Trump spoke about gang violence to law enforcement officers in Brentwood, New York, on Long Island. He told officers not to protect suspects’ heads when putting them in police cars. “Please don’t be too nice,” he said. In CNN’s footage from the event, officers can be heard laughing, cheering, and applauding.

In the same speech, when describing the violence of MS-13, an international street gang that has thousands of members across the US, Trump compared Long Island’s parks to “blood-stained killing fields,” a phrase most often used to describe a site in Cambodia where thousands of people were killed and buried by the Khmer Rouge.

Here’s the section of Trump’s speech where he referenced protecting suspects’ heads:

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.’ 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 said that his administration would support the police like no one in the past. Already, his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has ordered a review of consent decrees, a policy of federal oversight over local police departments that was championed by Barack Obama’s Justice Department.

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