News & Politics

Trump Says Cops Have a 'Right to Legally Protest' — But Kneeling Black Athletes Should Leave the Country

The president is very about whose lives he values and those he doesn't care about.

Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jeffrey Grossi

President Donald Trump endorsed the demands of Chicago police officers in their conflict with the city's mayor in a tweet Friday night, saying they have "have every right to legally protest" — a sentiment seeming to conflict with his push to punish black athletes in the NFL who protest silently during the national anthem.

"Chicago Police have every right to legally protest against the mayor and an administration that just won’t let them do their job," Trump wrote. "The killings are at a record pace and tough police work, which Chicago will not allow, would bring things back to order fast...the killings must stop!"

In addition to revealing his hypocrisy of Trump's view on the right to protest, the tweet was factually wrong. As Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale noted: "Trump's claim that Chicago homicide is at a record pace is wildly wrong. In fact, it is down 22% from last year. Shootings are down 27%. Police say gun violence has been down year-over-year for 14 consecutive months."

Just the day before, Trump had attacked the practice of protest, at least as engaged in certain ways and by certain people. 

“You have to stand proudly for the national anthem or you shouldn’t be playing,” Trump said in the interview with Fox News about NFL player's protests on Thursday. “You shouldn’t be there. Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country.”

Trump has long opposed the protests of players like Colin Kaepernick, who brought attention to police brutality against black Americans by kneeling during the national anthem. This week, the NFL announced that players could be fined for engaging in these protests, a move Trump cheered.

But when Chicago cops protest Mayor Rahm Emmanuel over contract disputes, Trump apparently has no problem with these protests. 

While some might see a contradiction here, Trump is actually consistent in his own way. He sees cops as the legitimate protectors of Americans against racial minorities. So while the former's protests are praiseworthy, the latter's are condemnable.

As MSNBC's Chris Hayes put it in a recent op-ed about Trump's view of law and order:

The president’s moral framework springs from an American tradition of cultivating fear and contempt among its white citizens against immigrants, indigenous people and people of color, who are placed on the other side of “the law.” ... And this is what “law and order” means: the preservation of a certain social order, not the rule of law.


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Cody Fenwick is a reporter and editor. Follow him on Twitter @codytfenwick.