Attorney General William Barr appeared to threaten communities that protest police brutality in a speech on Tuesday.
In a speech delivered Tuesday, Attorney General William Barr suggested that some Americans are at risk of losing police protection due to a lack of adequate "respect," HuffPost reported.
"[The American people] have to start showing, more than they do, the respect and support that law enforcement deserves ― and if communities don't give that support and respect, they might find themselves without the police protection they need," Barr said in a speech accompanying the Attorney General's Award for Distinguished Service in Policing.
Barr did not specify which "communities" he was referring to, but Jeb Fain, a spokesperson for the liberal research organization American Bridge, told HuffPost, "The Attorney General isn't being subtle and that shouldn't surprise us considering this administration's record. Barr's words are as revealing as they are disturbing ― flagrantly dismissive of the rights of Americans of color, disrespectful to countless law enforcement officers who work hard to serve their communities, and full of a continuing disregard for the rule of law."
The comments come after a yearslong effort by the Trump administration to target activists who protest police officers — while the administration simultaneously attacks law enforcement officers it disagrees with.
During the 2016 campaign, Trump attacked Black Lives Matter and announced his plans to use the powers of the federal government to crack down on their activities.
Trump called Black Lives Matter a "threat" and accused the group of "essentially calling death to the police," CNN reported.
"We are going to have to, perhaps, talk to the attorney general about it or do something," Trump told Fox News host Bill O'Reilly in 2016. "At a minimum, we're going to have to be watching."
Trump followed through on his vow, using the Justice Department to label Black Americans who protest racism as "Black Identity Extremists." Steven Renderos, co-director of MediaJustice, told the ACLU in August that evidence suggests "the FBI under Trump continues to prioritize criminalizing Black dissent while minimizing the threat of white supremacy."
Trump has not addressed the police brutality at the heart of Black Lives Matter protests. But in a 2017 speech to police officers, Trump encouraged police not to worry about protecting the arrested from injury. Trump also pardoned Joe Arpaio, an Arizona sheriff known for his severe mistreatment of prisoners, especially undocumented immigrants.
And, while Barr is demanding certain "communities" respect law enforcement officers, he has a history, alongside Trump, of regularly attacking law enforcement officers in the federal government.
A forthcoming independent report from the DOJ inspector general is expected to show that the FBI acted appropriately when the agency opened an investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign's interactions with Russian agents. But Barr is reportedly intending to reject the findings.
Trump himself has regularly attacked various law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, when they make statements he doesn't like. In January, he attacked "losers" in the law enforcement agency for opening an investigation into his campaign's links to Russian operatives. Trump also alleged "dirty cops" in the FBI were responsible for the probe. However, special counsel Robert Mueller's report on the subject found extensive ties — including 38 meetings — between Trump campaign officials and Russia-linked operatives.
In perhaps the most stunning example, Trump sided with Russian dictator Vlaimir Putin over the FBI and other intelligence agencies after U.S. agencies determined Russia interfered in the 2016 election to help Trump. Former CIA Director James Brennan called Trump's actions "imbecilic" and "nothing short of treasonous."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.