When it comes to race relations, Cleveland’s police department has a history that is far from unblemished. The highly publicized shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice by two Cleveland police officers played a large part in fueling the national outcry for accountability in policing across the nation. In a move that many consider to be highly irresponsible in light of tense relations between police officers and communities of color across the nation, The Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association has now endorsed Donald Trump. The union, which doesn’t typically endorse presidential candidates, broke from tradition to endorse the Republican presidential nominee this election season.
In response, many black officers are calling for the union to withdraw it’s support of the Republican presidential nominee. “The endorsement of a presidential candidate who is reckless, has a history of being racist and has continued to insult people from different ethnic backgrounds and religions is totally unacceptable,” said Lynn Hampton, President of the Black Shield police organization. In an interview with Cleveland.com, Hampton went on to say, “To many black and Hispanic men and women who serve on the Cleveland police department, our union should not be endorsing any candidate.”
Steve Loomis, president of the Patrolmen’s Association, cited Trump’s pledge to provide funding and equipment to police departments nationwide as explanation for his support. Community leaders, activist and former officers met on Thursday to air their concerns at the Black Shield’s union hall.