Understanding Trump’s zig-zagging and defensive conceptualization of excessive force should lead us toward a more in-depth critique of the systems at large.
Rabat – Concern is mounting worldwide around the brutal and life-threatening tactics used for restraint, specifically chokeholds, and US President Donald Trump has something to say about the matter that might offer us a better understanding of the problem at large.
Trump began by showing apparent support for the outlawing of chokeholds by stating, “I don’t like chokeholds.” He later added, “Generally speaking, they should be ended.”
“Generally” may be the key word here, considering Trump quickly contradicted his statement as he grappled with the idea of outlawing chokeholds under certain circumstances — “if it’s a real bad person” Trump questioned whether or not a person deciding if they should use a chokehold should “let go.”
Trump spoke about the restraint method as though he was reminiscing on childhood playtime with the boys.
“I will say this, as somebody that, you know, you grow up and you wrestle and you fight and you or you see what happens sometimes if you’re alone and you’re fighting somebody who’s tough and you get somebody in a chokehold,” Trump explained. “What are you going to do, say, oh, and it’s a real bad person and you know that. And they do exist.”
“I think the concept of chokehold sounds so innocent, so perfect,” Trump said. “And then you realize if it’s a one-on-one. Now if it’s two-on-one, that’s a little bit of a different story, depending on the toughness and strength. You know, we’re talking about toughness and strength.”
If the president’s thought processes around the matter seems a little unclear, that is fair.
Trump’s stance may be a perfect reflection of the ways in which the US criminal justice system (and others around the world) have rationalized violence and even killing in the name of getting rid of all those “real bad people.”
Of course, “real bad” remains a subjective part of the conversation that “law and order” has sought to neutralize for years under a system that supposedly prides itself in due process. Nevertheless, most law enforcement officers, officials, and judiciaries are without a doubt swayed by their inherent biases.
Police chokeholds in the context of Black Lives Matter
Trump’s comments sparked outrage amid worldwide protests against the deadly and excessive force used by white Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who killed George Floyd, a Black man, over allegedly using a $20 counterfeit bill on May 25.
In the aftermath of Floyd’s death, the Black Lives Matter movement reminded many that regardless of how open-minded and anti-racist one may think they are, there are learned and hidden biases that have been seeded within us throughout history.
Trump’s lack of coherency around whether or not chokeholds remain an acceptable use of force is much like the blurred lines drawn by the penal code under a system deeply embedded with racism and the power to downplay its “toughness and strength” while determining which lives matter.
Like Trump, it seems that most people find it difficult to argue that a lethal form of restraint should be carried out regularly. In fact, a number of police departments already ban chokeholds or deem them acceptable only under the most life-threatening situations for officers.
Advocates to defund police departments in the US have begun probing deeper into the qualifications and training required to uphold the roles of the police. In many states, one requires more extensive training to become a hairdresser than to handle a gun.
The system itself is riddled with the same ramblings displayed in Trump’s recent remarks on the issue, driven by a lack of in-depth and critical understanding of the ingrained biases and underlying concerns that may trigger murderous outcomes.
Understanding Trump’s zig-zagging and defensive conceptualization of excessive force should lead us toward a more in-depth critique of the systems at large. Throughout history, people of color and minority groups have too-often been subject to dangerous generalizations that determine when it is acceptable to suffocate someone, leading us down paths of injustice we see today.