On the hot summer night on of July 12, 1967, two white policemen in Newark, New Jersey, arrested an African-American cabdriver named John Smith for “tailgating” and driving in the wrong direction. The police also accused Smith of physical assault and using offensive language. Race relations had been growing more tense over the year as Newark Mayor Hugh Addonizio announced a series of decisions that had angered the African-American community.
Like Richard Nixon, President Trump pushed the national debate about policing in a very different direction. He expressed little sympathy for civil rights advocates and has been vocal about the need to provide full and unquestioning support for existing police and carceral institutions. There is little evidence that reform efforts at the local level are making any headway, either, as was evident with the recent decisions on police incidents that occurred.