OPINION: Latinos Are Not Happy With the Philly FOP’s Trump Endorsement

Vourvoulias: Supporting a candidate who has disparaged and insulted us from the day he declared will only further erode trust in the police — and hurt recruitment efforts.

Donald Trump

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to members of the audience during a commercial break at a CNN town hall earlier this year. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

When the national Fraternal Order of Police endorsed Donald Trump for president, the Philadelphia FOP was bound to follow. That is how FOP Lodge #5 president John McNesby put it when he announced the Philly union’s endorsement this past Sunday. The reactions weren’t surprising.

“Do they understand that they have endorsed a bigot and that the FOP serves a city where people of color make up the majority of the population?” asked Ángel Ortiz, who in 1983 was the first Latino elected to Philadelphia’s City Council. “Did the Latinos and African-Americans that are members of the FOP go along with this vote? I hope not.”

“Ha! Here go y’all ‘good’ Philly cops! Will the LGBTQ cops speak out against this? I will wait,” posted Louie Ortiz-Fonseca, the Afro-Latinx founder of The Gran Varones.

The Republican presidential candidate has disparaged and insulted Latinxs from the day he announced his candidacy, and has continued to insult immigrants, Muslims, Asians, African-Americans.

According to Latino USA, a New Latino Voice tracking poll conducted by Florida International University between September 6th and 12th showed that only 11.2 percent of the nation’s Latinxs support Trump (compared to 75.2 percent who support Hillary Clinton, and another 13.6 percent who support “other”).

Trump is polling at between 4 and 12 percent support from African-Americans nationally (according to factcheck.org), and 61 percent of Asian-Americans also view him unfavorably (according to the Wall Street Journal).

He doesn’t poll well with LGBTQ folks, either: In May, the Washington Blade put him at 16 percent support.

Those are dismal percentages for the FOP to be tied to, especially in Philly, where 42 percent of the population is Black, 13 percent is Latinx, and 7 percent is Asian (which means that 62 percent of the city is of color). Another 3.9 percent of Philadelphia’s population identifies as LGBT, according to a 2015 demographic snapshot of the nation published by the New York Times.

Rochelle Bilal of Philadelphia Guardian Civic League (representing some 2,500 African-American officers) told the Philadelphia Tribune’s Ayana Jones on Monday that the organization did not support the local FOP’s decision to back Trump: ““Our local is saying that they have to follow the lead. We are saying that you don’t […]”

Eddie López Sr., the president of the Spanish American Law Enforcement Association (S.A.L.E.A.), cut the local FOP more slack, but also made clear that the endorsement didn’t reflect S.A.L.E.A.’s views.  “There is a process the national FOP goes by, and because of that our FOP has to follow,” López siad. “With that said, [the endorsement] does not speak for everyone, and we respect their decision, but it’s not our decision. S.A.L.E.A. does not support Trump.”

Trump’s core support is white and male. And that is the core of the Philadelphia Police Department as well.

Fifty-seven percent of Philly’s police officers are white, 33 percent are Black, 8 percent are Latinx, and 2 percent are Asian, according to a 2015 Philly Mag piece analyzing diversity in the police force. That same year, in statistics compiled by Tom Ferrick for The Next Mayor Project, the diversity in the upper ranks was even more skewed. Sixty-eight percent of sergeants were white, 28 percent Black, 4 percent Latinx, and 1 percent Asian; 85 percent were men and 15 percent women. Additionally, out of 6,100 sworn members of the PPD, 60 are members of the Gay Officers Action League (GOAL).

Even so, it is not inconceivable that more than 43 percent of the city’s police force may feel betrayed by — or at least uneasy about — their union’s presidential endorsement.
López doesn’t believe the Trump endorsement will have a direct impact on efforts to bring more Latinxs onto the force, but the PPD has historically had a tough time recruiting them. Factors that have been cited for the difficulty run from college-credit requirements that often winnow out interested young Latinxs to the fact that the training now takes place in Northeast Philadelphia — a long haul from the neighborhood.

But it should also be noted that, as a 2014 Pew study found, the majority of Latinxs are less confident than their white peers about the justice and quality of policing their communities receive. Without confidence and trust, recruitment efforts in the Latinx community will always fall short.

So if the FIU survey numbers hold, Trump’s endorsement by the FOP will further erode trust and confidence in the police for 89 percent of the Latinx community. And that’s a big recruitment pool to sacrifice.