Police unions and their supporters across the country have largely thrown their support behind Donald Trump’s reelection campaign. Bolstered by the president’s “law and order” musings at campaign rallies, not every member of law enforcement is in tune with the messaging. Some Black police officers are breaking rank, saying that their voices haven’t been heard.
Trump has long used the massive demonstrations over police violence that have taken place much of this year to fuel his campaign. He continues to push the agenda that police are not being supported by Democratic politicians, who secretly wish to leave urban areas in chaos. That perspective has earned him the backing of unions like the Police Benevolent Association in New York, Chicago’s Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7, and the National Fraternal Order of Police, the country’s largest police union.
But organizations of Black police officers, which have advocated against use of deadly force, abuse against people of color and police misconduct, are speaking out, saying the endorsements of these unions does not mean that every member is in alignment.
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“We are members of these unions, and they don’t take into consideration our feelings about Donald J. Trump, then they don’t care about us and ... they don’t care about our dues,” Rochelle Bilal, recent past president of the Guardian Civic League of Philadelphia said, according to the Associated Press. She spoke to reporters earlier this month along with other Black police groups which say their concerns over Trump’s remarks which have been criticized as racist, sexist and as white supremacist dogwhistles. The Guardian Civic League has told its members, numbering about 1,200, to be ready to withdraw their dues from the National FOP.
Patrick Lynch, president of the New York-based Police Benevolent Association, openly voiced his support of the Trump campaign during the Republican National Convention this summer, the first time in 36 years that the organization had endorsed a candidate. But a statement last month from the Guardians Association of the Police Department of the City of New York Inc, said that there was “no conferral” before Lynch announced the endorsement.
“The Guardians Association is disappointed at the decision of the PBA to publicly endorse a presidential candidate and speak at the Republican National Convention,” the statement said. “We believe this action by the PBA undermines every police officer’s ability to remain neutral and nonpartisan in the eyes of the public.”
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Terrence Hopkins, president of the Black Police Association of Dallas, said some officers have left that city’s largest police union, in part because of its support of Donald Trump’s reelection and have since joined his organization.
“A lot of these officers feel like they aren’t being considered. A lot of the issues that push them to that point border along racial lines,” Hopkins said. “And it’s not just here. I got a call from some Black officers in Kansas City, Missouri, who wanted to join my organization because they don’t have any other outlet and they don’t feel like they are being represented.”
The Club Valiants of Philadelphia, an organization of nonwhite firefighters, has done the same as the Guardian Civic League, but regarding Local 22 of the International Fire Fighters and Paramedics Union endorsing Trump. Their parent organization has endorsed Biden, the AP reports. But a conflict has risen in the group and a survey is being run among members to determine if a revision to the endorsement will be necessary before the election.
“The election is Nov. 3, and people are out there voting now. What is it going to do to rescind the endorsement days before the election?” John Elam, a Philadelphia firefighter and Valiants member told the AP. “We want a fair process. We wanted a fair process from the beginning.”
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