In a speech before law enforcement officials in Long Island, New York on Friday, President Donald Trump celebrated his administration's crackdown on immigration and encouraged police officers to be "rough" with those they detain—a statement that was widely seen as an explicit call for police brutality.
"Don't be too nice," Trump said after referencing "thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon."
Trump on handling suspected criminals: "Don't be too nice" to "thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon" https://t.co/rZyICcW4Yr— NBC News (@NBCNews) July 28, 2017
"President Trump is openly and explicitly calling for, to wild applause just moments ago, cops to commit more police brutality," wrote Daily Beast reporter Asawin Suebsaeng. "America is once again a nation of laws, says Trump, who just told cops to beat the shit out of people they arrest."
Others shared Suebsaeng's reaction and denounced the president's comments as "utterly revolting."
WTF, Trump?— Holly O'Reilly (@AynRandPaulRyan) July 28, 2017
Why are you advocating police brutality to a room full of cops?
And why are they cheering brutality?
President Trump is openly and explicitly calling for, to wild applause just moments ago, cops to commit more police brutality.— Asawin Suebsaeng (@swin24) July 28, 2017
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The President of the United States just openly, blatantly endorsed police brutality and encouraged police officers to be "rough" w/ suspects— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) July 28, 2017
A week of legislative, messaging, & govern-by-tweet failures ends with a violent campfire tale of a speech advocating for police brutality.— Olivia Nuzzi (@Olivianuzzi) July 28, 2017
The President of the United States is openly encouraging police brutality. Every time I think he can't go lower, he does. https://t.co/ESilAIRwwW— Calvin (@calvinstowell) July 28, 2017
The speech was intended to focus on the gang MS-13, which critics argue the Trump administration is using as a pretext to expand its mass detention and deportation agenda.
New York Civil Liberties Union executive director Donna Lieberman said in a statement ahead of the Long Island speech that Trump's repeated invocation of MS-13 in the context of a broader conversation about the U.S. immigration system is "a cynical ploy to capitalize on recent headlines, cast aspersions on entire communities, and push his anti-immigrant agenda."
"Trump's vile rhetoric and cruel deportation machine mean that vulnerable immigrants must fear both gangs and the government at once," Lieberman concluded.