Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is causing divide between Cleveland's police officers.
The Black Shield, an organization representing black police officers in Cleveland's Division of Police sent a pointed message to leaders of The Cleveland Police Patrolman's Association: take back the union's endorsement of Donald Trump.
In late September, the Cleveland police union that represents 1,200 officers endorsed Trump for president. This is the first time the union has ever endorsed a presidential candidate.
On Thursday, the Black Shield demanded that the union take that endorsement back, calling the Republican nominee "racist."
"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," Black Shield President Lynn Hampton said, according to Cleveland.com. "To many black and Hispanic men and women who serve on the Cleveland police department, our union should not be endorsing any candidate."
The CPPA's president Steve Loomis is currently under investigation by internal affairs for wearing his dress uniform to a Trump rally in August. Loomis said that he went to the rally while off duty in his personal car, and then attended the rally in official capacity as the CPPA's president. Loomis defended wearing his official dress uniform at the rally by pointing out that he was previously photographed in it at the Republican National Convention in July.
"We all wore our uniforms every day of the RNC and took pictures and video with Mr. Trump, a host of Republican politicians, supporters and media, both on and off duty," Loomis said in a text message to Cleveland.com. "The men and women of the CPPA represented the City of Cleveland on an international stage in grand fashion."
The Cleveland chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People released a statement two weeks ago about the CPPA's endorsement of Trump.
"The CPPA action shows that they fail to recognize the fact that they are under a federal consent decree for engaging in a pattern and practice of excessive use-of-force. The President of the CPPA based his support of Trump on his belief that Trump would be a 'friend of police.' In other words, Steve Loomis implies that findings that Cleveland officers have beaten, maimed and killed unarmed men and women would somehow be allowed to go unchallenged under a Trump administration."
The CDP has a tumultuous recent history with race.
The CDP has been under a federal consent decree since last year. A consent decree essentially means that the CDP has agreed to undergo reforms recommended by the Department of Justice. A 2014 investigation by the DOJ found that officers used excessive force and had a lack of accountability. It also found that black people in Cleveland had a deep mistrust of the police.
"In addition, despite the fact that we are making no finding regarding racial profiling, we must report that when we interviewed members of the community about their experiences with the police, many African-Americans reported that they believe CDP officers are verbally and physically aggressive toward them because of their race. We also found that, when community members attempt to file complaints about mistreatment at the hands of CDP officers, they are met with barriers and resistance."
In 2014, two white officers shot black 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who had a pellet gun in his waistband. Video showed that Officer Timothy Loehmann, accompanied by his training officer Frank Garmback, shot Rice within two seconds of getting out of the squad car. A grand jury declined to bring charges against the officers sparking national outrage and protests in the streets of Cleveland.
In 2015, protests broke out again after a white officer, who shot two unarmed black people, was acquitted of involuntary manslaughter. After a car chase in 2012, Officer Michael Brelo got onto the hood and fired 15 shots through the window killing Malissa Williams and Timothy Russell.
Trump has positioned himself as the "law and order" candidate.
At the Republican National Convention in July, Trump played on the false fear that the U.S. is becoming increasingly unsafe, just weeks after the controversial police shootings of black men, and the murder of five Dallas Police officers at a Black Lives Matter rally.
Crime in the U.S. has actually declined steadily since the 1970s.
The first day of the convention was themed "Make America Safe Again" and Trump referenced the "recent images of violence."
"Americans watching this address tonight have seen the recent images of violence in our streets and the chaos in our communities. Many have witnessed this violence personally, some have even been its victims. I have a message for all of you: the crime and violence that today afflicts our nation will soon come to an end. Beginning on January 20, 2017 safety will be restored."
Trump also released a controversial crime plan last month that focused on greatly expanding the police practice of "stop and frisk." The overuse of this practice in New York City was deemed unconstitutional in 2013 for racial profiling.