Advertisement

Michigan Cops Endorse Trump, Who Salutes Followers Accused Of Assaulting Police

Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks with James Tignanelli, with the Police Officers Association of Michigan as he attends a campaign event on April 02, 2024 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks with James Tignanelli, with the Police Officers Association of Michigan as he attends a campaign event on April 02, 2024 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Spencer Platt via Getty Images

A Michigan police union has become the second to back Donald Trump, who glorifies and promises to pardon individuals charged with, and in many cases convicted of, violently assaulting police officers.

“We want you to accept our endorsement for president of the United States,” Jim Tignanelli, president of the 12,000-member Police Officers Association of Michigan, told the coup-attempting former president at a campaign appearance in Grand Rapids Tuesday.

David Malhalab, a retired Detroit police sergeant of 31 years, said he was appalled by the announcement. “It’s inexplicable,” he said. “They should condemn and reject Trump.”

“At the start of every rally, Trump honors insurrectionists who assaulted my colleagues with flag poles and bashed their heads against walls,” said Harry Dunn, a former Capitol Police officer who was called the N-word by Trump followers on Jan. 6, 2021.

Tignanelli did not respond to HuffPost queries.

The union’s web site features its Trump endorsement, stating: “He unequivocally condemned violence and unrest, standing firmly with law enforcement in times of crisis.”

That assertion, though, is false. On Jan. 6, Trump sat for hours in a small dining room of the Oval Office, watching a mob of his followers attack police officers and overrun the Capitol in their attempt to coerce Congress into overturning Joe Biden’s 2020 victory.

Only in the late afternoon, after police had turned the tide against his supporters, Trump finally released a video telling them to leave the Capitol, which they quickly did.

And although Trump the following day condemned the violence, he has over the past year come to embrace what his supporters did that day. At recent rallies, he has stood and saluted as a recording of the national anthem sung by Jan. 6 detainees, interspersed with Trump’s reading of the Pledge of Allegiance, is played over the loudspeakers.

Of the 20 held in the District of Columbia jail on March 13, 2020, the day of the recording, 17 were charged — and in some cases already convicted — of assaulting police. The other three were charged with seditious conspiracy — trying to overthrow the constitutional order so as to keep Trump in power.

Trump’s conservative critics struggle to reconcile police unions’ support with his unwillingness to condemn the violence done in his name.

“I don’t understand it, unless they feel the same disregard for their fellow officers who were injured and killed on Jan. 6 at the hands of insurrectionists called to Washington by Trump that Trump and his supporters do,” said Michael Steele, a former chair of the Republican National Committee.

He pointed to the death of Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick by stroke hours after Trump supporters assaulted him. “I wonder if they would have offered condolences to Mrs. Sicknick, because Trump didn’t. I wonder if they would have gone to Officer Sicknick’s wake, let alone funeral, because Trump did neither. I wonder if they are insulted and outraged that Trump wants to pardon insurrectionists convicted of crimes committed on Jan. 6, because apparently they are not.”

For decades, police unions have tended to support Republican candidates over Democrats, and some Republicans said the fact that some police unions are supporting Trump now could be as simple as that.

“They see Jan. 6 as a single point in time — that it was regrettable, but not something they base these decisions on,” said David Kochel, a veteran Republican political consultant. “And because they think Biden and the left are worse.”

Rick Wilson, a longtime GOP consultant turned fierce Trump critic, said no one should be surprised that police officers and their unions back Trump, despite everything.

“When you look at the demographics of police and police union leadership, they are exactly dead center in the Trump demo. Let’s be honest here. It’s a job you can get without a college degree and a lot of the people drawn to it are drawn to the kind of behavior Trump exhibits: strong man, tough guy, blustery,” Wilson said. “I know a lot of law-enforcement officers who are very uncomfortable with Trump, but they are, I believe, an exception, rather than the rule.”

The Michigan union’s endorsement comes two months after the Florida-based International Union of Police Associations endorsed Trump.

Dunn, who is now running for Congress in Maryland, said police departments are a reflection of America, and that unfortunately, many Americans support Trump, despite his actions on Jan. 6.

“But we cannot be fooled and let Trump brand himself as someone who cares about law and order,” Dunn said. “Because Donald Trump doesn’t care about law and order or about police officers. He only cares about himself.”

The police endorsements also come despite Trump’s status as a criminal defendant in four separate prosecutions — two of them based on his actions leading up to and on Jan. 6.

A federal indictment could go to trial as early as late summer, depending on the timing of a Supreme Court ruling on his claim that he is immune from prosecution. A Georgia state prosecution based on his attempt to overturn his election loss in that state could also start later this year.

A New York state prosecution on charges that he falsified business records to hide hush money payments in the days before the 2016 election is scheduled to begin jury selection on April 15, while a second federal prosecution based on his refusal to turn over secret documents he took with him from the White House to his South Florida country club has not yet been set for trial.

In a separate civil case, a New York jury in 2023 found that Trump had sexually penetrated Carroll against her will in an incident in the 1990s, finding him liable for sexual abuse. The federal judge in the case later clarified that Trump’s actions were rape in the “common modern parlance.”

Related...