ACLU Statement on Trump Executive Order on Policing

June 16, 2020 3:45 pm

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WASHINGTON – Today, President Donald Trump signed an executive order outlining meager police reforms following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless other Black people at the hands of law enforcement. Following international protests against U.S. law enforcement’s treatment of Black people, the Trump administration executive order sets financial incentives for police departments to establish credentialing programs and follow standard “best practices.”

Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union, highlighted the need for the Trump administration to take additional steps to reform racially targeted policing in America in the following statement:

“With today’s executive order, President Trump once again failed to acknowledge racism as a fundamental problem in American policing. Even as the president went to great pains to sidestep the core issue of systemic racism in American policing, he was quick to blow the ‘law and order’ dog whistle intended for his base. He blew that law-and-order dog whistle with a single-minded and cynical focus on his reelection. Other members of the Republican Party, like Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), are quicker to acknowledge the need for systemic police reform, but this president is increasingly out of step with the majority of American people and even the leaders of his party.

“In over 20 minutes of prepared remarks, the president said the words ‘race’ once, and ‘Black’ six times. Most telling, President Trump never used the word ‘racism’ – not once – at this historic inflection point. The word he was afraid to use is more memorable than anything he did say. The president’s use of victims’ families as a backdrop as he offered empty words of sympathy, anemic reforms, and hollow rhetoric was sad – to borrow a word from the president’s vocabulary. What’s wrong with this picture: The president had a veritable beauty pageant of law enforcement officers behind him as he signed an executive order that was supposedly meant as a response to the public outcry of recent weeks.

“Contrary to President Trump’s assertion, the crisis in American policing is not due to a ‘tiny’ number of ‘bad’ police officers. The unlawful use of excessive force and the absence of any real accountability in police department after police department have led to the wanton killing of Black men and women. The only solution in the face of such systemic racism is a concerted effort to divest funding to police departments and shrink police presence in the everyday lives of communities of color. Banning the use of chokeholds – though with exceptions – is a first step, but more of the same won’t solve the crisis in American policing. The solution must be a smaller police presence in our communities. Moreover, the federal government must stop grant programs that turn local police departments into standing armies and reallocate those resources into alternatives to policing that keep local communities safe and help them thrive.”

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