President Donald Trump finally reacted to nationwide anger at racial inequality and deadly police violence Tuesday with measures targetted at reforming police forces, including a move to end dangerous chokeholds during arrests.
In a Rose Garden ceremony that was attended by police and Republican congressional allies, with no black civil rights representatives or political opponents, Trump said “we have to break old patterns of failure.”
Although the president has a limited grip over police affairs, which is run mainly at a state and local level. But, Trump assured that he would use access to federal funding grants as leverage to persuade departments “to adopt the highest professional standards.”
His executive order concentrated mainly on de-escalation training, better recruitment, sharing of data on police who have bad records, and money to support the police in complicated duties related to people with mental or drug issues.
A run-down of Trump’s proposals, which he said maybe complemented by legislation being negotiated in the Republican-controlled Senate, was ending chokeholds “except if an officer’s life is at risk.”
Trump’s choice to keep the televised audience overwhelmingly white, male, and focused on law enforcement representatives reinforced his message that racism has nothing to do with police violence.
“Americans know the truth: without police, there is chaos, without law, there is anarchy and without safety, there is a catastrophe,” Trump said.
“Only a very tiny number of the police commit wrongdoing”, he said in remarks that frequently veered into a campaign speech about his accomplishments as president.
Meanwhile, Democrats and some civil rights organizations have argued that full-scale rethinking of police culture, and even cuts in police funding, are needed to bring necessary change to the police.
Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer said, “While the president has finally acknowledged the need for policing reform, one modest executive order will not make up for his years of inflammatory rhetoric and policies designed to roll back the progress made in previous years.”
The first wave of protest began more than three weeks ago, after the May 25 death of George Floyd, an African-American man, in Minneapolis who stopped breathing when a white police officer kneeled on his neck after handcuffing him during an arrest for a minor offense.
Another tension sparked last week after the death of Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta, Georgia, another African American whom police say was shot in the back as he ran away from arresting officers, having grabbed one of their tasers and faced it at them.
Watching the public opinion shift just less than five months before November’s presidential and congressional elections, Republicans are working hard not to be left behind on the highly emotional issue.
Trump’s slow pace movement to express empathy for the fear and powerlessness that the black American community says they feel on a daily basis when encountering police left a vacuum that his Democratic opponent Joe Biden is requesting to fill up.
“Systemic racism pervades every part of our society, including law enforcement, and we have to do the hard work to root it out,” Biden tweeted Tuesday.