President Donald Trump on Friday gave a speech in Brentwood, N.Y., at Suffolk County Community College to an audience of law enforcement officers and made a remark while discussing the dangerous gang MS-13 that R&B singer Chris Brown, of all people, says is no joke.
During the speech, Trump said:
When you see these thugs thrown into the back of a paddy wagon. You see them thrown in, rough. I said, “Please don’t be too nice.” Like when you guys put those guys in the car, and you are protecting their head. The way you put their hand [referring to how officers guide a suspect’s head into the car with their hands]. Like don’t hit their head, and they just killed somebody. I said, “You can take the hand away, okay?”
These words proved polarizing.
One Fox News headline read “Media sympathizes with MS-13, lambasts Trump.” A CNN headline Friday morning went with “MS-13 members: Trump makes the gang stronger,” while a Saturday opinion piece was headlined “The real message in Trump’s MS-13 speech.”
The opinion piece argued that the speech, if meant to “draw attention to the serious threat of gang violence on Long island and around the country,” was a speech that “[deserved] to be termed Mission: Not Accomplished.”
Even the Suffolk County Police Department released a statement to clarify, saying, “As a department, we do not and will not tolerate ‘rough[ing]’ up prisoners.”
“The Suffolk County Police Department has strict rules and procedures relating to the handling of prisoners, and violations of those rules and procedures are treated extremely seriously,” the department said.
While White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters, “I believe [Trump] was making a joke at the time,” Brown interpreted the remarks as no laughing matter.
Brown posted a video of Trump’s speech on his Instagram with an expletive-laden message, saying that the president was giving police license to “FUCK UP YOUNG BLACK MEN!!”
“WHAT IN THE ACTUAL FUCK?????! HE GIVING POLICE MORE RIGHT TO FUCK UP YOUNG BLACK MEN!! SHIT IS CRAZZY!!! this is not how u make peace or any kind of help. Please wake up people!🙏🏽,” he wrote on Friday.
Brown was sentenced in 2009 to five years probation and more than 1,400 hours in “labor-oriented service” for his high-profile domestic assault of his ex-girlfriend, Rihanna.
Brown has been accused of assaulting women many times over the years. A “Timeline of Chris Brown’s History of Violence Towards Women” by Rolling Stone compiled a list of reported incidents from 2009 through 2016.
The ones listed there include: walking off a “Good Morning America” interview with Robin Roberts when asked about the domestic violence case and breaking a window; robbing a phone from a woman trying to snap a photo of him; an accusation that he’d shoved and caused injury to a woman at a club; ejecting a woman from his bus over a cell phone; an accusation that he’d punched a woman in the face at a Las Vegas night club, again over a photo attempt; an accusation from a female tour manager that Brown threatened an attack; and an accusation from a woman that Brown threatened her with a gun at his home.
PEOPLE went even more in-depth on Brown’s checkered past with a timeline of its own.
As recently as June 2017, Karrueche Tran was granted a five-year restraining order against Brown, her ex.
She alleged that Brown threatened her when she wouldn’t return the rings he gave her, and that he texted: “I can get my money back and I’m tired of playing games,” “Bitch I will beat the shit out of you,” and, “I promise you I will make your life hell.”
Previously, Brown has confessed in an Instagram video, “If I love you, bitch, ain’t nobody gonna have you. I’m gonna make you miserable.”
How does any of this “make peace or any kind of help?”