In April 2018, Trump made it clear that he intends to increase law enforcement to ‘help’ stop the ongoing opioid crisis that’s been ongoing in the US over the last few years and claimed countless lives.
Many accuse Trump’s plan as racist given that people of colour are much more likely to be incarcerated under proposals.
After Trump made the declaration, there were violent protests in Charlottesville, VA by neo-Nazis and other white supremacist. The US Government was criticised due to the lack of police presence during this protest. Many counter-protestors were violently attacked and these attacks could have been prevented if police had been present.
Trump failed to blame these protestors for this violence. Instead, he chose to place the blame squarely on the shoulders of counter-protestors who had the carriage to stand up to this band of racist thugs. These counter-protestors were clearly standing up to white supremacist ideology, so it is difficult to agree with Trump in his assertion that these people were to blame for the violence that ensued.
Trump’s proposal to ramp up policing in order to ‘deal with’ the opioid crisis seems to further confirm his right-wing agenda. Some argue Trump’s proposal is merely a continuation of policing as a means of executing a racist agenda on the part of the executive body. Some also see US law enforcement as synonymous with the control of the black population.
This state-of-affairs has its origins in the ‘black codes’ created after the American Civil War and then the Jim Crow laws that set up racial segregation in the late 19th Century. The War on Drugs is believed by many to be simply an incarnation of the ‘black codes’ and Jim Crow laws for the 21st Century.
Trump’s call for more enforcement is merely providing fuel to the flames. In the name of fighting the opiate crisis, Trump has attempted to justify the rolling-back of Obama era criminal justice reforms. Rather than face up to the fact that the War on Drugs has failed, Trump persists in blaming cartels for the opiate crisis. This seemingly purposeful and knowing denial will only serve to allow the opiate crisis to persist for many years to come.
Trump’s proposals are costly, highly ineffective and serve to victimise people of colour in the name of ‘law and order’. A far better strategy would be to invest in a wide-ranging naloxone programme and nationwide drug treatment programme. Instead, the funds that could make this possible will instead be put into into law enforcement. It is thought Trump is planning to invest around $15.6 billion in law enforcement for the express purposes of curtailing the opioid crisis.
Both Republicans and Democrats are calling for policing and criminal justice reforms that would see the War on Drugs all but halted. Clearly, this isn’t something that is going to happen under Trump’s watch. Instead, Trump will oversee a strengthening of the status quo, which translates into the surveillance, arrest, and incarceration of people of colour living in the USA. This will only serve to destroy rather than to save lives of US citizens.