President Donald Trump announced Thursday that he had signed three executive orders that stand to significantly increase the criminalization and incarceration of some of the nation’s most vulnerable populations by broadening law enforcement agencies’ powers.
“Trump’s executive orders that expand the discretionary power of police enforcement are a clear attack on freedom, justice and equality. These new polices are intended to further criminalize, imprison, and deny justice to the nation’s most targeted populations including people of color, people living below the poverty line, and LGBTQ people,” said Rea Carey, National LGBTQ Task Force Executive Director.
A report published in 2014 shows that 73% of LGBTQ respondents had an interaction with police in the last five years. 21% of those respondents reported hostile attitudes from officers, 14% reported verbal assault by police, 3% reported sexual harassment and 2% reported physical assault by officers. Furthermore, in 2016, of the 963 people shot by police officers, about half of those people were people of color and almost 25% were Black—while Black people only make up 13% of the U.S. population.
“Law enforcement already has too much power, and too much discretion. We don’t need anything more to ‘stop crimes against law enforcement officers;’ in fact all 50 states have laws that make it a serious crime to assault or kill law enforcement officers. There is no evidence that these laws are under-enforced,” said Carey.
According to FBI data, LGBTQ people are the most likely group to experience a hate crime. Around 60% of LGBTQ people who experience hate violence are people of color. Of people who reported hate violence to police, 80% said the police were indifferent or hostile. Unsurprisingly, only 56% of survivors of hate violence report those incidents to police. In 2014, law enforcement agencies reported almost 5,500 incidents of hate violence against people of color, LGBTQ people, and religious minorities.
“Trump’s actions are yet another example of how laws intended to protect vulnerable populations are instead being manipulated to harm those who are intended to be protected. Hate crimes laws are intended to aid prosecutions for crimes that were under-charged or not charged at all. These Executive Orders will only increase policing and prosecutions of people of color, LGBTQ people, and lower-income people,” said Meghan Maury, National LGBTQ Task Force Criminal and Economic Justice Project Director.