Trump speaks in New York town hit hard by gang violence
Brentwood, N.Y. — Talking tough on illegal immigration and violent crime, President Donald Trump appeared Friday to advocate rougher treatment of people in police custody.
Trump visited Suffolk County, New York, to highlight administration efforts to crack down on illegal immigration and violent crime, and in particular the street gang known as MS-13.
The president urged Congress to find money to pay for 10,000 Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers “so that we can eliminate MS-13.”
Trump said the administration is removing these gang members from the United States “but we’d like to get them out a lot faster and when you see ... these thugs being thrown into the back of the paddy wagon, you just see them thrown in rough, I said, ‘Please don’t be too nice.’ ”
Trump then spoke dismissively of the practice by which arresting officers shield the heads of handcuffed suspects as they are placed in police cars.
“I said, ‘You could take the hand away, OK,’ ” he said. The audience included federal and law enforcement personnel from the New York-New Jersey area, some of whom applauded Trump’s remarks.
MS-13, or Mara Salvatrucha, is believed to have originated in immigrant communities in Los Angeles in the 1980s and then entrenched itself in Central America when its leaders were deported. It is known for violent tactics that include torturing victims and hacking them with machetes.
Authorities estimate the group has tens of thousands of members across Central America and in many U.S. states.
Trump’s visit to his home state of New York came as Attorney General Jeff Sessions was in El Salvador to increase international cooperation against the gang. But the president did not mention Sessions in his remarks.
Trump’s comments about police treatment of people in their custody resurrected memories of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old Baltimore man who was shackled but alive when he was put in a Baltimore police van in April 2015. Gray left the vehicle with severe neck injuries, and his subsequent death spawned rioting. Six officers were charged initially, but prosecutors in July 2016 dropped all remaining charges after acquittals and a hung jury.
Gray’s family agreed in September 2015 to a $6.4 million settlement with Baltimore.
Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.