Police shootings are a national issue

April 1, 2018 GMT

The Trump administration calls the national outcry expressed in the wake of numerous police shootings of Black men in recent years “a local matter.”

“Certainly a terrible incident,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Wednesday when asked about the fatal police shootings of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Stephon Clark in California. “This is something that is a local matter and that’s something that we feel should be left up to the local authorities at this point in time.”

When pressed about the national implications of the cases, Sanders stood by her comments.

“Certainly, we want to make sure that all law enforcement is carrying out the letter of the law. The president is very supportive of law enforcement, but at the same time in these specific cases and these specific instances, those will be left up to the local authorities,” Sanders said.

The Trump administration is wrong. The shootings are not simply a local matter, but reflect a serious national problem.

Louisiana’s attorney general on Tuesday announced the state would not be filing charges against the two officers involved in Sterling’s death. The U.S. Department of Justice announced in May that it would not bring civil rights charges against the officers following an investigation.

The idea that controversial police shootings are simply a local matter is contradicted by the facts. The U.S. Department of Justice would not need to become involved if it was simply a local matter.

The fact in many of these shootings is that it is necessary for federal authorities to open civil rights investigations.

Trump is picking and choosing when police matters are a local or national issue.

The president has weighed in on the conduct of local law enforcement in encouraging police officers to be rougher on suspects they arrest. He has also deployed federal authorities to stem gun violence in Chicago. Trump has repeatedly called for police nationwide to implement tough-on-crime policies.

It is only when it comes to the deaths of Black men at the hands of police; Trump believes those incidents are “local matters” that should be left up to the local authorities.