Attorney General William Barr warned that the American people “have to start showing, more than they do, the respect and support that law enforcement deserves.”
While speaking to a room full of law enforcement officers Tuesday night during a Justice Department award ceremony to honor distinguished service in policing, Barr warned that communities that protest against law enforcement could no longer be protected by police.
“Today, the American people have to focus on something else, which is the sacrifice and the service that is given by our law enforcement officers. And they have to start showing, more than they do, the respect and support that law enforcement deserves,” Barr said, according to The Washington Post.
He added that “if communities don’t give that support and respect, they might find themselves without the police protection they need.”
Barr did not indicate what “communities” he was referring to, the Post notes.
Civil-rights activists quickly condemned Barr’s remarks, saying his comments are “revealing.”
“Barr’s words are as revealing as they are disturbing ― flagrantly dismissive of the rights of Americans of color, disrespectful to countless law enforcement officers who work hard to serve their communities, and full of a continuing disregard for the rule of law,” Jeb Fain, spokesperson for liberal super PAC American Bridge, told HuffPost, which first reported Barr’s remarks.
“When police officers roll out of their precincts every morning, there are no crowds along the highway cheering them on and when you go home at the end of the day, there’s no ticker-tape parade,” he lamented.
He went on to compare police officers to soldiers returning home from the Vietnam War.
“In the Vietnam era, our country learned a lesson. I remember that our brave troops who served in that conflict weren’t treated very well in many cases when they came home, and sometimes they bore the brunt of people who were opposed to the war,” Barr said, according to the Post. “The respect and gratitude owed to them was not given. And it took decades for the American people finally to realize that.”
Barr railed against Americans who protest police officers, saying they should stop because law enforcement is “fighting an unrelenting, never-ending fight against criminal predators in our society.”