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article imageAG Barr's unusual remarks raise questions over police protection

By Karen Graham     Dec 4, 2019 in Politics
Civil rights advocates condemned Attorney General William Barr for comments Tuesday suggesting that communities that don't show sufficient "respect" for law enforcement could lose police protection.
The country's chief law enforcement officer made those remarks while speaking Tuesday night during a Justice Department award ceremony to honor distinguished service in policing, according to the Washington Post.
In his remarks, Barr reportedly said, "Today, the American people have to focus on something else, which is the sacrifice and the service that is given by our law enforcement officers. And they have to start showing, more than they do, the respect and support that law enforcement deserves."
Even though Barr did not define which communities he was referring to, he did add, that “if communities don’t give that support and respect, they might find themselves without the police protection they need.”
This particular remark really bothered critics and civil rights activists because it sounds more like a "veiled threat" aimed at people of color who have protested police brutality and demanded stronger accountability for law enforcement, according to Common Dreams.
Vanita Gupta, president, and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights called Barr's comments "profoundly disturbing and irresponsible."
In a statement Wednesday, Jeffery Robinson, director of the ACLU's Trone Center for Justice and Equality, said Barr is effectively "telling communities across the country to bow their heads in respect to police even if those same police are violating their rights and killing people without justification."
Barr even went so far as to compare police officers to veterans returning home from the Vietnam War, pointing out they were not very well received on coming home after giving their all for freedom. “The respect and gratitude owed to them was not given. And it took decades for the American people finally to realize that," Barr said.
The Atlantic's Adam Serwer said Barr's comments show that the attorney general views police not as "sworn officers of the law" or "civil servants bound by an oath" but as "a gang running a protection racket."
Adam Serwer
More about AG William Barr, Police departments, Warning, show respect, Protest
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