“I am the Law and Order Candidate”
Over the course of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, he has consistently referred to himself as the “Law and Order” candidate. If this does not terrify you, either you are privileged enough to not understand what this means or simply do not care. After hearing him speak on current race relations in America at the Presidential Debate on September 26, 2016, I was immediately terrified. For people of color in this country, the “Law and Order” candidates, namely Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, have done nothing but exacerbate every form of oppression.
“The problem in our minority communities is not that there is too much police but that there is not enough police”
The quote above, spoken by Trump at the same debate, is particularly frightening considering the tumultuous relationship between people of color and police. What I have noticed scrolling through the comment sections on these articles is that people think this is a new issue. It isn’t. 2016 mirrors the days of Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Huey P Newton almost identically. The culmination of police brutality, discrimination, and weak activism surrounding Huey Newton were the catalysts to the formation of the Black Panther Party 50 years ago in 1966.
Donald Trump’s claim that there are not enough police patrolling minority communities is terrifying. It proves his lack of understanding of the racial history of this country. I believe it proves his lack of empathy, as does much of his rhetoric, for marginalized communities altogether. The time line of lethal police shootings of unarmed African American people is filled to the absolute brim. In 2015 alone, 102 unarmed black people were killed by police. On top of that, they make up 13% of the US population and were 37% of the unarmed people killed in 2015. That is astounding.
A data analysis provided by PLOS One, a multidisciplinary Open Access journal, has provided crucial research in understanding the percentage of lethal intervention by police in regards to racial bias. Their data has shown that if you are unarmed and black, you are 3.49 times more likely to be shot by police than if you were white and unarmed. Now if we reverse the situation and say that you are black and armed, their research still shows that you are 2.94 times as likely to be shot by police.
Research data also illustrated that “the armed-to-unarmed risk ratio in whites is elevated relative to that of black or Hispanic individuals (especially in a handful of outlier counties). This pattern is consistent with police being more discerning of armed/unarmed status before shooting a white suspect than shooting a black or Hispanic suspect”. This is critical in understanding that our country has a proven history of feeding into the stereotype we’ve created of the “violent black man”. When that stereotype has been embedded it seeps out into racial bias in our police departments. In turn, they are now able to discern whether or not a white person is armed and on the other hand, consciously or subconsciously, fall into the fallacy that black people are inherently violent and act on that irrational instinct far too quickly and far too often.
“In the good old days, Law Enforcement acted a lot quicker than this. A lot quicker”
Trump lamented several times throughout his campaign trail this year that law enforcement used to deal with protesters more violently. At a rally in Fayetteville, NC, a black protester was being led out by police when he was elbowed by a trump supporter. After the protester was led out, Trump told his supporters “See, in the good old days this doesn’t happen, because they used to treat them very, very rough. And when they protested once, you know, they would not do it again so easily. But today they walk in and they put their hand up and they put the wrong finger in the air at everybody and they get away with murder because we’ve become weak, we’ve become weak”.
He reminisces on a time when articles such as the above, from Life magazine, were published in 1963. Our police officers in 2016 are only minutely different now. We have continued to militarize them, we have weaponized them and then failed to train them properly. The cost of this dereliction is staggering and it is comprised of black bodies.
To elect a political figure such as this, would be a continued detriment to everything this country is supposed to stand for. Donald Trump is the embodiment of white supremacy. Willfully blind to our atrocities and their lethal consequences for people of color, he still calls for law and order.