By Richard Ray
It is a common misperception that so called liberals are somehow soft on crime. Arguably, I think that most Americans believe strongly in law and order and have similar views in wanting a safe society in which “bad” people are punished for their crimes. The differences may come in that zealots believe any means justify the ends and severe punishment and incarceration is the answer to all of society’s woes.
The President of the United States recently gave a televised speech in front of police officers, in which he asked/directed the cops to be physically rougher on criminals as they were placing them in patrol cars, detaining them or taking them to jail. The punch line to the joke is that the police behind him clapped at the request.
Except this is not a joke, and the danger of such rhetoric is not lost on an already embattled community that is already uneasy and distrustful of its relationship with law enforcement. For those that see no issue with the police getting more physical with criminals, let me share this brief reminder and analysis.
The police are first and foremost neither judge nor jury. People arrested, no matter how much we may assume their guilt, are not guilty until proven so in a court of law. Furthering this point, this request/directive by the Commander in Least calls for abject profiling by law enforcement to judge people based on appearance and make a determination that they are criminals. Now most probably would not object if directed to a MS-13 member with the gang’s name tattooed on his face, but the problem is that the directive is not that specific.
It calls for the police to profile, judge and assume who the bad guys are and once they make that determination it is okay for them to brutalize them. There is enough of an issue concerning the deficiency in the training that law enforcement personnel are presently receiving, now we want to embolden them with assaulting the constitutional rights of our citizens, based on their judgment. All POC have seen how the support and directive from the top to forgo civil rights plays out… it is GroundHog Day but instead of a comedy it is a horror film.
Trump’s speech could very well be a foreshadowing of a decision to fire US Attorney General Jeff Session and replace him with Rudy Giuliani. A move that would further promote local law enforcement’s ability to use stop and frisk with a backing by the DOJ. I can not state strongly enough how dangerous Trump’s rhetoric is. Police brutality is a serious issue in this country, and encouraging the practice instead of focusing on additional training for law enforcement is part of the hysterical overreacting that people who view themselves as tough on crime see as the solution to everything. That overreaction to crime of excessive punishment has not worked and adding more brutality is an even further step away from the right direction. This is not being soft on crime but instead taking a hard stand on violating people’s civil rights, specially by a group (the police) who have not shown sound judgment in their abilities to police their own behavior.
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