Union leader tells Republican convention why cops back Trump
President of the National Assn. of Police Organizations says the streets will be worse under Joe Biden.
While Kenosha, Wis., and other cities continued to rock Wednesday with protests over the police shooting of an unarmed Black man, the Republican National Convention heard from a police union leader who said the true root of violence in the streets is elected officials “refusing to allow law enforcement to protect our communities.”
Michael McHale, president of the Nation Assn. of Police Organizations, made no reference to this week’s shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha. He instead focused on how President Trump would protect police and communities from what he depicted as the menace of people taking to the streets.
“The violence and bloodshed we are seeing in these and other cities isn’t happening by chance,” said McHale, a veteran police officer from Sarasota, Fla. “It’s the direct result of refusing to allow law enforcement to protect our communities.”
“The differences between Trump/Pence and Biden/Harris are crystal clear,” McHale said. “Your choices are the most pro-law-enforcement president we have ever had or the most radical anti-police ticket in our history.”
The national police organization gave its endorsement to Trump last month, a striking departure from a previous endorsement of the Democrats. The organization, a collection of about 1,000 police unions, endorsed Barack Obama and Joe Biden in both 2008 and 2012, praising them for attending to traditional union imperatives, such as collective bargaining, healthcare and robust retirement plans.
The shift by the association — representing departments that employ 241,000 officers — speaks to the dramatic evolution in the national discussion over policing that began when George Floyd died in police custody in Minneapolis in late May.
McHale was the latest of multiple speakers at the convention to attempt to tie Biden to the furthest left parts of the Democratic Party. Activists have called for cutting the budgets of police departments and shifting some resources to parks, substance rehabilitation, mental health care and other priorities. Some have called for outright elimination of police departments.
Biden has said he is opposed to “defunding” police. His platform proposes $300 million in increased spending on community policing, contingent on police reflecting the diversity of their communities.
In announcing the endorsement last month, McHale wrote to Trump that “our endorsement recognizes your steadfast and very public support for our men and women on the front lines ... especially during this time of unfair and inaccurate opprobrium being directed at our members by so many.”
The organization gave particular credit to the president for directing Atty. Gen. William Barr to “aggressively prosecute those who attack our officers.” McHale on Wednesday also praised Trump for signing the Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act and for his support of funding for Sept. 11 first responders and their families.
Police have complained of being victimized in many of the protests against excessive force. But the uniformed “blue line” for police has been breached dramatically in recent months. Even some police unions condemned Floyd’s death as murder.
In subsequent protests, some police were hit with projectiles or attacked but others were shown hitting and tear-gassing protesters, without provocation.
The sense of outrage was renewed Tuesday with the release of a videotape showing a police officer in Kenosha firing seven shots into the back of Blake as he hurried to get into a car, where his children waited. Blake survived but was left partially paralyzed, touching off a new round of protests.
Several major league sports teams canceled games Wednesday, as protesting players refused to compete.
“We are scared as Black people in America,” said Lakers star LeBron James. “Black men, Black women, Black kids, we are terrified. Because you don’t know.”
McHale said the police endorsement of Trump recognized his “strong support for the men and women on the front lines, particularly during these challenging times.”
Although he condemned the death of Floyd, Trump has saved his harshest criticism for protesters, condemning athletes and others for kneeling in protest of police violence and calling the painting of Fifth Avenue in New York with “Black Lives Matter” a “symbol of hate.”
Accepting the police endorsement in July, Trump tweeted: “I will ALWAYS back the men and women in blue, and never let you down. LAW AND ORDER will prevail!”
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