The head of Philadelphia’s police union released a statement today condemning the “exclusion of police widows” from the Democratic National Convention’s speaker list, less than a week out from the event.
“The Fraternal Order of Police is insulted and will not soon forget that the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton are excluding the widows and other family members of Police Officers killed in the line of duty who were victims of explicit, and not implied racism, and ‘being on duty in blue,’” wrote John McNesby, President of FOP Lodge 5.
McNesby referred questions to FOP Vice President Roosevelt Len Poplar, who reiterated that the union was “shocked” that the DNC speaker list did not include any family members of recently slain police officers.
“The loved ones of the officers that paid the ultimate price should have a chance to speak up there, onstage,” he said. “It’s a political move.”
The letter goes on to state that Clinton was “pander[ing] to the interests of people who do not know all the facts, while the men and women they seek to destroy are outside protecting the political institutions of this country,” and that she should be “ashamed” of the exclusion.
McNesby had described Black Lives Matter organizers as a “terrorist organization” earlier in the week, but Poplar said today’s statement was not specifically directed at the Black Lives Matter protest groups, which have drawn the ire of police and pro-law enforcement organizations for purportedly inciting violence against cops.
“I’m talking about anyone, not just Black Lives Matter – it’s other groups, too,” he said. “You have a climate out there where there’s a movement against police officers.”
Poplar said the slight would not affect police conduct during the convention.
DNC organizers referred questions to the Clinton campaign, which did not respond by press time.
The spat underscores a growing rift between law enforcement and those seeking police reforms; as well as between the Democratic party establishment and white, blue-collar voters, whose views often echo those espoused by McNesby.
As calls for police reforms in the wake of officer-involved shootings have been plagued by politically-motivated killings like those in Dallas and Baton Rouge, La., the Black Lives Matter protests have been viewed through an increasingly polarized lens.
While some activists have called for more militant actions, BLM organizers have publicly rebuked killings of police. But Republicans have sought to bind the group to the killings and in turn to muddy public perception of Democratic support for law enforcement. A public feud with the union representing police officers guarding Democratic conventioneers will do little to allay that characterization.
Updated at 6:38 p.m.: The DNCC sent out a press release early Wednesday evening announcing that former Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey and former NYPD Detective Joe Sweeney, renowned for digging through the rubble of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, looking for survivors, will both be speaking at the convention.
"As Hillary Clinton has said, we need to support heroic police officers who put their lives on the line every day, as well as listen to the voices of mothers who have lost their children," said Stephanie Formas, Hillary for America's PA communications director. "We look forward to highlighting the courageous efforts of law enforcement with speakers at our convention, including from Pennsylvania, and praising their work to keep our communities safe."