On Friday, July 28, President Donald Trump spoke to a group of law enforcement officials in New York, and, at one point, explicitly encouraged police to manhandle suspects, saying,

[W]hen you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon — you just see them thrown in, rough — I said, please don’t be too nice. Like when you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting their head, you know, the way you put their hand over? 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, okay?

With the death of Freddie Gray, which resulted from what Baltimore police termed “rough rides,” still a fresh wound to so many of us, this endorsement of police brutality—in jest or otherwise—and the accompanying applause by the audience made up almost entirely of law enforcement officers struck many of us as disturbing.

It’s worth dwelling on the scene for a moment: the person who swore an oath to uphold the Constitution and the civil liberties it enshrines suggested to the front-line people entrusted with enforcing those laws to disregard the physical well-being of a person suspected—not convicted—of a crime. It is hard to understate how dangerous this kind of talk is.

And it is hard to overstate the pride that we felt when our own Gainesville Police Department voiced their absolute denunciation of Trump’s comments.

The Official Twitter account of GPD posted the following statement:

The @POTUS made remarks today that endorsed and condoned police brutality. GPD rejects these remarks and continues to serve with respect.

And Officer Ben Tobias, the GPD spokesperson, tweeted:

I’m a cop. I do not agree with or condone @POTUS remarks today on police brutality. Those that applauded and cheered should be ashamed.

Both tweets have gone viral, and deservedly so.

We at Indivisible realize that our police department has work to do in order to address some gaping racial criminal justice inequities. And we will address that at a more appropriate time.

At this moment, however, as an organization, Indivisible Gainesville praises the voices of the Gainesville Police Department for adamantly rejecting the dangerous, thoughtless comments of the President of the United States to employ unmerited force.  Thanks again for making our community proud and standing up for fundamental rights. Yes, we have serious issues that divide us and need to change, but we want to encourage our community—leaders and residents alike—to build on this moment.

In Solidarity,
~The Indivisible Gainesville Team


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