Washington, D.C. — Following several days of protests against police brutality toward Black Americans, President Donald Trump gave a speech threatening to use the military against Americans exercising their First Amendment rights. Following his speech, Neera Tanden, president and CEO of the Center for American Progress, issued the following statement:
Rather than making any attempt to heal this nation, President Trump’s actions and words are tearing the country apart, and it falls upon every government official of both parties and every citizen to reject his call.
Americans, particularly Black Americans, are in mourning. That mourning reflects a tragedy that has unfolded since the beginning of our country, an original sin, and has been forced before our eyes by video after video. Loss after loss. One murder after another of a Black American at the hands of police officers. It is a blight on our history that this pain has been disregarded even as it has stared us in the face for so long.
There are positive forces working for change in our country to stop the ongoing killings of Black Americans in particular and to live up to the ideals our country was founded on. Sadly, as is so often the case, President Trump has been part of the problem, not part of the solution. He has explicitly encouraged police violence as president, utterly ignored the concrete policy steps developed by his predecessor in conjunction with activist leaders, and now militarized the nation’s capital for a photo op. And on top of all of this, he’s now threatening to use America’s military against American citizens throughout the country. This is not just wrong. It is illegal, contrary to the principles in our Constitution and authoritarian.
We feel the rage and despair flooding our streets and we stand with those peacefully protesting for racial justice. We must listen to and lift up the hopeful voices that can lead the way to real progress. Leaders of both parties must come together, put aside cheap political tactics like those of President Trump, and understand the agony of our fellow Americans. This massive, open wound in our country will not be healed overnight, but if we use this moment not to rip that wound open further but to commit ourselves more than ever to healing, we can overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles as our country has before.