Hillary Clinton’s decision to host mothers of black men killed by police violence at the DNC convention, while failing to garner the participation of the family members of officers recently slain in the line of duty sets a dangerous precedent. It casts her as overly sympathetic to BLM (Black Lives Matter), and sends a message to law enforcement that she is siding against them.
It is laudable and quite appropriate for Hillary to give voice to the pain and frustration that many African-Americans and others feel about civilian deaths at the hands of law enforcement. Black Lives Matter and other groups have brought the issue to the forefront of the political debate after several controversial events – capped most recently by the deaths of two armed black men at the hands of police in Minnesota and Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
However, there is a fundamental difference between the use of deadly force by police carrying out their duties – whether ultimately found justifiable or not -- and the plainly unjustified and senseless deaths of eight officers in Baton Rouge and Dallas at the hands of murderous madmen. There is just no moral equivalence there. The tragic deaths of these officers are further compounded by the fact that the killers claimed to act out of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
Philadelphia FOP (Fraternal Order of Police) has already come out against Clinton with a scathing statement expressing the FOP’s outrage at, “the exclusion of police widows and family members" from the list of convention speakers. The statement continued, "It is sad that to win an election, Mrs. Clinton must pander to the interests of people who do not know all of the facts, while the men and women they seek to destroy are outside protecting the political institutions of this country.”
While Hillary may not exactly be pandering as the FOP claims – she is addressing a major concern among her base of voters and seeking to compensate from her association with mass incarceration policies that have recently been discredited. However, she does run the risk alienating a significant segment of the electorate who want to see her address race, policing, and crime in a more balanced manner. If her goal is to bring the country together and heal the divides that plague our nation, she needs to give voice to all of the sides of the debate, not just one perspective.
Notably, however, former Philadelphia Police Chief Charles Ramsey, who has previously shied away from politics, is also scheduled to speak at the Democratic Convention this week. His speech will be key in terms of trying to strike a balance and move towards solutions that protect law enforcement and the public, and also lead to a greater quality of life for all Americans.