Baker slams Trump’s lack of leadership
‘It’s definitely not what we need across this great country’
GOV. CHARLIE BAKER missed the call the nation’s governors had with President Trump on Monday, but that didn’t stop him from criticizing the president in what were harsh terms for the state’s top Republican.
Trump, according to multiple reports, described the governors as weak and urged them to call out the National Guard, control the streets, and crack down on people protesting the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for roughly eight minutes. The officer has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
“I know I should be surprised when I hear incendiary words like this from him, but I’m not,” Baker said at a State House press conference. “At so many times during these past several weeks, when the country needed compassion and leadership the most, it was simply nowhere to be found. Instead, we got bitterness, combativeness, and self-interest. That’s not what we need in Boston, it’s not what we need right now in Massachusetts, and it’s definitely not what we need across this great country of ours either.”
In fighting the coronavirus pandemic, Baker said, it’s important that everyone feel that they are “all in this together.”
The governor said the same goes for race. “If one community really does feel, based on incidents and events time and time again, that they are being hindered from an ability to actually get somewhere, that affects the sense of their stake in what’s going on here,” Baker said. “America is at its greatest and its best when its leaders promote the notion that we all have a stake in everybody else’s success because, frankly, we do.”
Baker applauded the thousands of protesters on Sunday who exercised their free speech rights to protest the death of Floyd while doing so peaceably. He talked about the tragedy of racism and downplayed questions about whether the gatherings would lead to the spread of COVID-19.
“I want to thank everyone who made their voices heard with the safety of those around you in mind,” he said. “To the men and women of law enforcement, fire, EMS, the National Guard, and every first responder who was out on the street last night, thank you….To the criminals and cowards who tarnished that night’s peaceful protest, I expect your day in court will come soon. The destruction of property, the looting, the criminal attempts to injure law enforcement are unacceptable. The people of Massachusetts cannot let these individuals succeed in their goal to sew chaos into the fabric of what is an important effort and movement.”
Baker said his administration is talking with stakeholders about legislation and other efforts to address transparency and credibility in the law enforcement process.“Without it, bad actors will continue to smear those who do the right things every day and the very best among them will not get the gratitude they deserve,” he said.
Baker’s comments about the protesters were not unlike those of US Attorney Andrew Lelling. “Loud, even disruptive, protests honor the memory of George Floyd and increase the pressure for swift, transparent accountability for those who killed him. I commend those who protested loudly, yet peacefully. But stealing suits, robbing a jewelry store, and rounding out the night by vandalizing businesses in Back Bay, attacking police and torching cruisers? That’s crime, and nothing more,” Lelling said in a statement. “Let me be clear: the violence and destruction last night in Boston was an embarrassment to the movement for police reform and accountability. The Boston Police, supported by State Police, Transit Police, federal law enforcement, and the National Guard, was doing its job – the dangerous, necessary job of protecting the public safety. I support them completely and, if needed, I will use federal charges to make that point. I commend the Boston Police and the hundreds of other local, state and federal officers on the streets last night, for their bravery, professionalism and restraint. You reminded us that 99 percent of law enforcement officers are true public servants, putting themselves in harm’s way for the rest of us.”