Trump Has Also Empowered Police Violence

[Content Note: Police abuses; violence.]

I often say that Donald Trump didn't invent white supremacy, but he has done his damnedest to empower white supremacists.

The same sentiment is operable regarding what the "law and order candidate" has wrought: Trump did not invent police abuses of their badge, but he is doing everything in his unrivaled power to condone, defend, and abet those abuses.

It started during his campaign and was present throughout, from saying police should jail protesters to suggesting the necessity of martial law in Chicago, which has continued into his presidency.

His presidency has been peppered with the empowerment of police abuses, including having the Justice Department "review" police reform agreements; delivering a fascist speech in front of a crowd of uniformed police officers during which he "joked" that police should hurt suspects in their custody; pardoning "constitutional sheriff" Joe Apraio; considering hiring "constitutional sheriff" David Clarke; and authorizing increased militarization of the nation's police forces, despite the fact that police in battle gear "can actually lead to an escalation in violence."

It's not just that Trump has failed to prioritize the much-needed police reforms begun under the Obama administration which Hillary Clinton promised to continue. It's that Trump has deliberately unwound what progress had been made and actively seeks to empower militarized, abusive police forces.

So when we see things like a nurse being roughly detained in a Utah hospital for refusing to break the law on the order of a police officer, we must put it in the context of a presidency which has signaled tolerance of abuses precisely like it.

The background: Detective Jeff Payne wanted nurse Alex Wubbels to draw blood from an unconscious patient in her care who had been injured in a car accident that killed another driver. But, because the patient is unconscious and Payne does not have a warrant, she cannot legally draw blood. Payne doesn't care, threatening to jail Wubbels for interfering with a criminal case if she refuses to get him the sample, and telling her: "I either go away with blood in vials or body in tow."

Video Description: Alex Wubbels, a young, white, female nurse at University Hospital in Salt Lake City, stands in an administrative area of a hospital. She is holding a cell phone and a piece of paper. A white male doctor (I think) stands near her, holding a phone. On the other end of her phone, on speaker, is a man who seems to be a hospital administrator or attorney. At least two male police officers are off-camera.

"Brad," she says into her cell phone, "I'm just putting you on speaker so you can—" Gestures to paper and begins speaking to police officer. "So, I have this— It says: 'Obtaining blood samples for police enforcement from patients suspected of being under the influence.' Okay? This is something that you guys agreed to with this hospital. The three things that allow us to do that are if you have an electronic warrant, if the patient consents, or patient under arrest, and neither of those things— The patient can't consent; he's told me repeatedly he doesn't have a warrant; and the patient is not under arrest."

She pauses, waiting. When no response comes, she continues, "So, I'm just trying to do what I'm supposed to do. That's all, so..."

A male police officer off-camera says, "Okay. So I take it without those in place, I'm not going to get blood? Is that—am I fair to surmise that?"

Through her phone comes a male voice, reassuring her she's doing the right thing. She says she doesn't know why the police officer is blaming her. The voice on the phone asks the officer, "Why are you blaming the messenger, sir?"

"She's the one that has told me no," the officer replies.

"Yeah, but sir, you're making a huge mistake right now," says the voice from the phone. "Like, you're making a huge mistake, because you're threatening a nurse—"

"Okay. No, we're done. We're done. You're under arrest," says the officer, and he grabs for Alex. Everything gets very chaotic onscreen as Alex backs away to try to avoid being manhandled by the officer, who continues to grab at her. There is lots of loud crosstalk.

"This is not okay!" Alex yells. She screams for help and screams at them to stop. The officers chase her out a door and grab her and handcuff her. It is incredibly difficult to watch.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports:
A University of Utah police officer and Department of Public Safety officers, who provide security for the hospital, were present at time of the arrest and did not intervene.

As he stands in the hospital parking lot after the arrest, Payne says to another officer that he wonders how this event will affect an off-duty job transporting patients for an ambulance company.

"I'll bring them all the transients and take good patients elsewhere," Payne says.

...Wubbels said she has heard anecdotally of other health care workers being bullied and harassed by police, and that these videos prove that there is a problem.

...Wubbels, who was not charged, said she has watched the footage four or five times and said, "It hurts to relive it."
None of this is okay. Not the police officer demanding that a nurse break the law; not threatening to arrest her; not detaining her in a most traumatic fashion; not trying to abuse the constitutional rights of the patient; not saying that he will take patients to another hospital (as opposed to the closest one); not talking about "transients" and "good patients" as mutually exclusive groups; none of it.

This is a police officer who is totally out of control. And he is certainly not alone.

We have a citizenry who is increasingly fearful of the police, and a president who wants it that way. Nothing good comes from that.

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