Since the death of George Floyd, we’ve seen police officers do a whole lot of bad stuff. I mean sure, most police are good people etc., etc. But there’s too much shit going on to blame it on a few bad apples.
We’ve seen unreasonably aggressive force used on peaceful protesters — and on people who just happened to be in the way. We’ve seen people chosen, seemingly at random, for beatings and arrests. We’ve seen excessive use of tear gas, flash grenades, rubber bullets and other instruments of “humane” policing. We’ve seen police vehicles drive through protesters. We’ve seen numerous officers stand idly by while their colleagues engage in needless violence. We’ve seen police destroy water supplies and first-aid stands. We’ve seen loads of instances of police attacking journalists who had identified themselves and were carrying proper credentials.
And we’ve seen police committing vandalism to private property and even to their own vehicles, apparently to justify attacking and arresting peaceful demonstrators.
They’re acting with impunity, with no apparent fear of punishment, dismissal, or shaming. Hell, they arrested a CNN reporter and his crew during a live television broadcast.
They’re acting like Proud Boys with badges. Take this Orange County sheriff’s deputy (please, take him) who thought it was a dandy idea to report for protest duty wearing paramilitary patches right next to his actual badge.
OK, so America has been dealing with a sometimes-toxic culture of policing for a long time. But there’s something different about the ubiquity and shamelessness of police misconduct during the George Floyd protests.
And I think it’s Donald Trump.
Throughout his presidency, he’s been normalizing — nay, celebrating — behavior that is widely considered aberrant. He’s talked of beating up demonstrators, reporters, “not being too nice” with suspects. He has encouraged all the forms of police misbehavior that have been on broad display these past several days.Continue reading