Earlier this year, Trump called in the National Guard to Washington, D.C. to police demonstrations. He was heavily criticized after peaceful protestors near the White House were tear-gassed so that he could stage a photo opportunity at a church across the street.
In Portland, Oregon, he also sent federal agents who clashed with demonstrators every evening over a several week period. Videos surfaced on social media of federal officers using unmarked vehicles to grab protestors off downtown Portland streets.
Trump has signed an executive order that would provide some narrow police reforms including the establishment of a national database on police misconduct.
This order came after he faced pressure to take action following the death of George Floyd at the hands of police.
Trump has rejected ideas to defund police as “radical and dangerous,” instead outlining programs to hold police officers to higher standards.
The president promised a ban on chokeholds, except when the officer believes his or her life is in danger; more support for officers who deal with the homeless, drug addicts and the mentally ill, along with social workers to help officers better navigate these encounters. However, his administration has yet to take any action.
Although Trump rails against defunding the police, in February the Trump administration proposed a 58 percent cut in the COPS Hiring Program, a federal program that supports police department staffing. This is not the first time. The administration has routinely called for cuts to this program, only to be shut down by Congress.
Despite some level of reform, Trump’s other policies and rhetoric seems to encourage violence from law enforcement.
This summer, he posted a tweet that appeared to support violence in which he said “When the looting starts, the shooting starts,” a phrase used by segregationists against civil rights protestors. The president later said he did not mean it as a threat.
During May’s demonstrations, Trump praised the way the Secret Service agents “would quickly come down on [protestors], hard — didn’t know what hit them.” Back in 2017, he told law enforcement officers to “please don’t be too nice” when making arrests.
Trump has also repeatedly empowered hate groups whose remarks resonate with white supremacists.
During the first presidential debate of 2020, the president did not condemn white supremacists and the alt-right, instead telling the Proud Boys — a far-right and neo-fascist male-only organization that promotes and engages in political violence — to “stand back and stand by.” The group immediately adopted the phrase, adding it to their logo.
Days after he declined to denounce white supremacists which sparked outrage among many Americans, he told Fox News that he condemns right-wing hate groups such as the KKK and the Proud Boys.
In June, Trump tweeted a video of his supporters at a retirement community in Florida in which one Trump fan chanted "white power."
Trump has repeatedly referred to the BLM movement as violent, calling it “discriminatory” and “bad for Black people.”
He described BLM protestors as “dangerous thugs.”
In July, the president tweeted about New York City’s decision to paint “Black Lives Matter” on Fifth Avenue, calling it “a symbol of hate.”
American journalist Bob Woodward and the author of “Fear:Trump in the White House,” asked Trump whether he felt America “has systemic racism.” At first the president responded with "probably less here than most places or less here than many places." But after he was pushed, he admitted that yes, America does have systemic racism. “I think it is [in America]. It’s unfortunate, but I think it is.”
This statement was released only days after Trump visited Kenosha, Wisconsin in the wake of protests that erupted after Jacob Blake was shot in the back seven times by police, and completely dismissed the “idea” of systemic racism, instead saying the city has been “ravaged by anti-police and anti-America riots.”
Trump has also said that “We must build upon our heritage, not tear it down” — a reference to the dismantling of Confederate statues around the country.
Just last month, Trump tweeted that the California Department of Education would not be funded if it went through with implementing its anti-racism lessons in California schools which include the use of the 1619 Project directed by The New York Times Magazine, calling it “toxic propaganda.”
He called the project “totally discredited” and denounced the “twisted web of lies” being taught in schools and instead supported the development of a “pro-American curriculum that celebrates the truth about our nation’s great history.”