Police unions have backed Trump, who incited Wednesday's attack on the Capitol.
Dozens of police officers were injured on Wednesday as supporters of Donald Trump launched a violent attack on the U.S. Capitol — egged on by Trump himself, who has long touted himself as the "law and order president."
"More than 50 [U.S. Capitol Police] and [Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia] sustained injuries during the attack on the Capitol," said D.C. Chief of Police Steven Sund in a statement issued Thursday. "Several USCP officers have been hospitalized with serious injuries."
Sund said, "The violent attack on the U.S. Capitol was unlike any I have ever experienced in my 30 years in law enforcement here in Washington, D.C. Maintaining public safety in an open environment – specifically for First Amendment activities – has long been a challenge. The USCP had a robust plan established to address anticipated First Amendment activities. But make no mistake – these mass riots were not First Amendment activities; they were criminal riotous behavior."
Trump had been urging his supporters to protest certification in Congress of the results of voting in the Electoral College for weeks, tweeting on Dec. 19, "Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!"
In the hours before his supporters rioted at the Capitol, Trump appeared at a rally on the Ellipse in Washington and called the outcome of the 2020 presidential election an "egregious assault on our democracy."
Trump told the crowd, "We're going to walk down to the Capitol. And we're gonna cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women. And we're probably not going to be cheering, so much for some of them, because you'll never take back our country with weakness, you have to show strength and you have to be strong."
Trump presented himself as a champion of law and order in his election bids in 2016 and 2020, a claim to which some attribute his rise to power. And police unions have endorsed his bids for the presidency.
In late August, as protests continued across the country against police brutality and systemic racism, Trump told the crowd at a rally in Minnesota that Democrats don't like law and order: "The words 'law and order' are words that Democrats don't like to use," he said. "They don't think they're politically good. There's nothing wrong with law and order. There's law and order, and you shouldn't be ashamed of it."
Citywide protests erupted in Kenosha, Wisconsin, after a white police officer shot and paralyzed Jacob Black, a Black man, on Aug. 23 of last year. Two days later, two of the people taking part in the protests were shot and killed by 17-year-old Trump supporter Kyle Rittenhouse, actions Trump would later defend in a press conference.
Days later, Trump visited Kenosha to praise the city's police department.
"I really came today to thank law enforcement," he told the Kenosha police department. "Really, what you have done has been incredible, it has been really inspiring."
In a July roundtable for stakeholders "positively impacted" by law enforcement, he claimed left-wing politicians were to blame for assaults on police officers.
"But our officers have been under vicious assault, and hundreds of police have been injured and several murdered," Trump said. "You've been reading about it just like I've been seeing it. Reckless politicians have defamed our law enforcement heroes as 'the enemy.' They call them 'the enemy.' They actually go and say they're the enemy, and even call them 'an invading army.' These radical politicians want to defund and abolish the police from our nation."
And in October, he told an assembly of the International Association of Chiefs of Police that "reducing crime begins with respecting law enforcement," again blaming liberal politicians seeking to defund the police for attacks on police officers.
"Politicians who spread this dangerous anti-police sentiment make life easier for criminals and more dangerous for law-abiding citizens," Trump told the gathered police chiefs. "And they also make it more dangerous for police. And it must stop, and it must stop now."
But he did have one promise for law enforcement: that the Trump administration would always have their backs.
"Today, I stand before you, as the President of the United States, to tell you that my administration will always honor, cherish, and support the men and women in blue. And we are proud to do it," he said.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.