A major New England police union announced Thursday it endorsed Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump.
Unions, for the most part, don’t tend to endorse Republicans. The New England Police Benevolent Association, however, insisted its primary concern is not the party but what is best for its members. The union rallied against President Barack Obama for what it feels is anti-police rhetoric coming from the administration. The decision was made after a vote from the union general membership.
“Listen, our message very clear: It’s what is the next president of the United States going to do to unite this country in an effort to save police officers? Because it’s open season on police officers,” Union Executive Director Jerry Flynn told The Associated Press before the vote. “At this point, those of us who are supportive of any party have to look at what is the best interest of our members.”
The union represents law enforcement personnel from across New England. Leadership within the union already met with Trump last week before inviting him to speak with members. Trump promised to make killing police a crime punishable by death when meeting with the membership.
“Police forces throughout the country have had a hard time,” Trump told union members. “I said that one of the first things I’d do in terms of executive order if I win will be sign a strong, strong statement that will go out to the country, out to the world, that anybody killing policemen, police woman, police officer, anybody killing a police officer, death penalty is going to happen.”
Throughout his campaign Trump garnered both positive and negative attention for his upfront demeanor. He has also called for much stricter immigration policies while recently proposing an embargo on Muslims immigrants. His stance has been criticized by Democrats and even some of his fellow Republicans.
For police officers in general and the union membership, the main issue is the rise of anti-police threats and violence. The union has also accused Obama of perpetuating the rise of anti-police hate. It boycotted the president during a Labor Day speech Sept. 7 in Boston. The administration has been very critical of police over recent instances of alleged misconduct.
Freddie Gray died in April from spinal injuries while in the custody of Baltimore police. Michael Brown was shot dead after robbing a store and assaulting police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Mo. Another incident involving alleged police misconduct resulted in the death of Eric Garner. Garner was caught selling untaxed cigarettes.
In general, though, Trump has not had a lot of support among unions. Local chapters at Unite Here have accused him of ignoring the struggles of his Las Vegas hotel workers. Local 2455 of the National Border Patrol Council cancelled a meeting with him July 23 after Trump called illegal immigrants rapists.
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