U.S. Attorney General William Barr said Tuesday that communities, where demonstrations against police occur, could face less protection from law enforcement.
Although Barr did not name any specific communities or groups, his speech at the Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service in Policing emphasized a need for greater “respect and support” for law enforcement.
“If communities don’t give that support and respect, they might find themselves without the police protection they need,” Barr said.
Barr contrasted Americans’ support for troops returning home from abroad to the lack of similar support given to the men and women in law enforcement: “When police officers roll out of their precincts every morning, there are no crowds along the highway cheering them on and when you go home at the end of the day, there’s no ticker-tape parade.”
Police officers are “fighting an unrelenting, never-ending fight against criminal predators in our society,” said Barr.
Liberal super PAC American Bridge was among the first to condemned Barr’s remarks. A spokesperson told Huffington Post that “Barr’s words are as revealing as they are disturbing” as they are “fragrantly dismissive of the rights of Americans of color” and “disrespectful to countless law enforcement who work hard to support their communities.” Critics say Barr’s comments are a thinly veiled threat directed at Americans who exercise their constitutional right to protest.
In the past, Barr has made his disapproval of police reform activism clear as well as his hardline “zero tolerance” position against crime. He as also been an outspoken critic of what he views as progressive attorneys general who are “demoralizing to law enforcement and dangerous to public safety” by enforcing a policy that sees as hampering police officers’ work.
This generally echoes President Donald Trump’s position as being hard-on-crime. In the past, Trump has said he would like to see the return of the controversial “stop and frisk” program used by police in New York City to be implemented nationwide. The president has also previously said that law enforcement shouldn’t be “too nice” when arresting suspects.