Houston Police Chief Tells Donald Trump: 'If You Don't Have Something Constructive to Say, Keep Your Mouth Shut'

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo offered some advice to President Donald Trump on Monday after the president reportedly called on governors to do more to crack down on protesters demanding justice over the death of George Floyd: "Please, if you don't have something constructive to say, keep your mouth shut."

Acevedo's comments came after CNN reported that it had obtained audio of Trump telling governors that they had to "dominate" protesters "or you'll look like a bunch of jerks" during a phone call from the basement White House Situation Room.

According to CNN, Trump can be heard in the recording telling governors they must "arrest and try people." For the past week, protests have continued against the death of 46-year-old African-American Floyd, who died after a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest.

During an interview on Monday with Chief International Anchor Christiane Amanpour, Acevedo said he had a message "on behalf of the police chiefs in this country" in response to Trump's reported comments.

"Let me just say this to the President of the United States on the behalf of the police chiefs in this country: Please, if you don't have something constructive to say, keep your mouth shut, because you're putting men and women in their early twenties at risk."

"This is not about dominating. It's about winning hearts and minds and let's be clear: We do not want people to confuse kindness with weakness, but we don't want ignorance to ruin what we've got here in Houston," he said, noting the city's efforts to avoid violence between law enforcement and protesters.

"Speaking for my colleagues across the country, where their officers are being injured, community member are being injured, if you don't have something to say, like Forrest Gump, then don't say it," Acevedo said, apparently referring to the 1994 movie.

"That's the basic tenets of leadership and we need leadership now more than ever," Acevedo said.

The police chief then asked protesters not to react to Trump's comments, but instead to take their frustrations to the polls in November.

Houston Police Chief @ArtAcevedo: “Let me just say this to the President of the United States, on behalf of the police chiefs of this country: please, if you don’t have something constructive to say, keep your mouth shut.” pic.twitter.com/z5AJpOO0RO

— Christiane Amanpour (@camanpour) June 1, 2020

"It hurts me to no end because whether we vote for someone or don't vote for someone, it's still our president," he said. "But, it's time to be presidential and not try to be like you're on The Apprentice. This is not Hollywood; this is real life and real lives are at risk."

"I ask the American people to please join with the police, stand together, let's shift this to where it needs to be... to the voting booth," Acevedo said. "Pay attention to the hearts of the people we elect."

The Houston police chief then appeared to accuse people who have been rioting amid protests of not exercising the right to vote at the polls.

"The reason this stuff happens is because too many people right now in this country that are throwing blocks, bricks, and damaging property never bothered to vote," Acevedo said.

"You have a choice: lift up your voice, be heard in the voting booth and continue to march peacefully so the focus remains on bad policing, criminal policing," he said.

However, he added: "Let's be real honest, this is not just about policing. It's about society and the disproportionality of the things going on in our country, from education to health, to food to everything that we all as human beings hold near and dear."

Returning to Trump's comments, Acevedo said: "Please don't react to that."

"If we just hug one another the only thing that will happen to overcome hate is love and love and engagement," he said. "Let's engage and let's do what we can control which is our own action, our own hearts and exercise, without fail, our right to vote."

Newsweek has contacted the White House for comment.

Art Acevedo
Houston police chief Art Acevedo looks on during a press conference following a tour of the NRG Center evacuation center on September 4, 2017 in Houston, Texas. Acevedo has condemned Trump over his leadership amid protests following George Floyd's death. Justin Sullivan/Getty