President Trump signed an executive order on Tuesday aimed at reducing fatal encounters between police and minorities, after the nationwide outcry and violent protests over police brutality in the deaths of George Floyd and others.
“Though we may all come from different places and different backgrounds, we’re united by our desire to ensure peace, dignity and equality for all Americans,” Mr. Trump said in the White House Rose Garden. “We have to find common ground.”
The action, among other steps, bans police “choke-holds” unless an officer’s life is in danger. As the president signed the order, he was flanked by the leaders of several national law-enforcement groups.
Mr. Trump injected the presidential campaign into his announcement, declaring that “President Obama and Vice President Biden never even tried to fix this during their eight-year period.” Mr. Obama convened a task force on policing during the emergence of the Black Lives Matters movement to address similar tensions, but the panel’s recommendations were largely ignored by police departments nationwide.
Before the announcement, Mr. Trump met with families of several people who died in encounters with police, including Ahmaud Arbery of Georgia, who was shot and killed by a white resident as he jogged through a neighborhood earlier this year.
He told the families, “Your loved ones will not have died in vain.”
But Mr. Trump reiterated that he vehemently disagrees with a movement by some Democrats to defund police departments in the wake of the tragedies. He said the nation doesn’t need “more stoking of fears and division.”
“Americans know the truth without police — there is chaos without law, there is anarchy, and without safety there is catastrophe,” the president said. “We need to bring law enforcement and communities closer together, not to drive them apart. Violence and destruction will not be tolerated.”
The order encourages police departments to adopt best practices in de-escalating confrontations with suspects, establishes a system for sharing information to track officers who have repeated complaints against them for excessive force, and and creates federal incentives for police departments to deploy social workers on issues like mental health and addiction.
The president said a strong economic recovery from the coronavirus shutdowns “is probably the best thing we can do to help the black, Hispanic and Asian communities.” He noted that retail sales jumped a largest-ever 17.7% in May, calling it “a great thing, because ultimately it’s about jobs.”
“Unless my formula is tampered with, we will soon be in a stronger position than we were before the plague came in from China,” the president said. “We’re way ahead of schedule.”
He also recounted his administration’s achievements for blacks, including record levels of funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
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