Police unions nationwide have largely supported President Donald Trump’s reelection, amid mass demonstrations over police brutality and accusations of systemic racism — but a number of Black law enforcement officers are speaking out against these endorsements, saying their concerns over entering the 2020 political fray were ignored.
Trump has touted his support from the law enforcement community, which includes endorsements from national, city and state officers’ unions — some of which publicly endorsed a political candidate for the first time.
There have often been tensions between minority organizations and larger unions, like in August, when the National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers issued a letter condemning use of deadly force, police misconduct and abuse in communities of color.
While support for the Republican incumbent does not strictly fall along racial lines, many Black officers say the endorsements for Trump don’t fairly represent all dues-paying members.
“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,” said Rochelle Bilal, the recent past president of the Guardian Civic League of Philadelphia, calling the National Fraternal Order of Police’s Trump endorsement an “outrage.”
Bilal, who was elected as Philadelphia’s first Black female sheriff last year, spoke at at an early October news conference with other Black law enforcement groups in Philadelphia to condemn Trump endorsements and the process they say ignored their concerns over what they perceived to be racist remarks, support for white supremacist groups and a lack of respect for women from Trump.National FOP leaders said they have heard from members who don’t agree with the Trump endorsement — and they’re open to talking over concerns — but that all 44 state Fraternal Orders of Police chapters that cast a ballot voted for Trump.
Denouncing the endorsement processes, The Guardian Civic League has asked its about 1,200 members to be prepared to withdraw their dues from the national FOP, as has the Club Valiants of Philadelphia — an organization of more than 500 minority firefighters — from the Local 22 of the International Fire Fighters and Paramedics Union.
In New York City, Patrick Lynch — the head of the Police Benevolent Association that represents about 24,000 officers — announced the union’s endorsement of Trump at August’s Republican National Convention, something members said they had no warning would happen.
Terrance Hopkins, president of the Black Police Association of Dallas, said a handful of officers left the Dallas Police Department’s largest union, partly driven by its support for Trump, and had joined his organization.
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