On Friday, Donald Trump visited Suffolk County, NY, to deliver what were billed as remarks on the street gang Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13. He also told a group of cops that it would be good if they roughed up suspects. The crowd loved it.
Over the course of a freewheeling, frequently incoherent, and altogether horrifying display of raw nationalistic militarism, the president managed to shoehorn in digs at President Obama, Hillary Clinton, Senate Republicans, and New York City mayor Bill de Blasio—much of which was greeted with applause from the room full of police officers, sheriffs, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agents.
But perhaps no moment was quite as alarming as when the self-proclaimed “law and order” president urged the assembled police officers to brutalize suspects during their arrests.
“When you see these towns, and when you see these thugs being thrown in the back of a paddy wagon, you just see them thrown in, rough, I said ‘please don’t be too nice,” Trump told the crowd, shortly after celebrating the uptick in police purchases of military equipment.
“Like when you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting their head, you know, the way you put your hand over,” He continued. “Like, don’t hit their head and they’ve just killed somebody. Don’t hit their head? I said, ‘You can take the hand away, OK?’”
At this the auditorium, burst into sustained applause.
Trump picked the right crowd for the comments. In 2016, Suffolk County Police Chief James Burke was found guilty of conspiring to obstruct justice, and of civil rights violations, after he threatened to beat and kill a thief who had stolen a duffle bag of pornography from Burke’s vehicle. Burke was sentenced to 46 months in federal prison.
Just yesterday, the FBI charged Suffolk County police officer Christopher McCoy for “depriving an arrestee of the right to bodily integrity” after a woman claimed she’d been forced to perform oral sex on him during an arrest.
Update, 7/31, 5:45PM: Don’t worry folks, he was only kidding!