Rift Within Cleveland Police Union Over Solidarity Demonstration

photo of cleveland police
Officers and members of the Ohio National Guard watching a peaceful demonstration June 2, 2020, outside the First District police station in Cleveland. [Matthew Richmond / ideastream]
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A demonstration Monday planned by Cleveland’s police officers’ union was met with backlash from the city’s black officers’ group.

The Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association invited officers to show solidarity for one minute at noon by flashing the blue lights on their cruisers, saluting the flag or standing with their hands over their hearts.

The union said it was meant to show solidarity for those on the front lines “suffering from the devastation being caused to our community and our law enforcement families.”

Black Shield, the black police officers’ association, condemned the effort, saying it would hurt progress and distract from lawful attempts to enact reforms.

“We denounce this demonstration as dismissive and divisive,” said Black Shield’s president, Vincent Montague, in a press release. “They divide safety forces within their ranks and serve only to further marginalize and alienate community members from the same safety forces charged to learn from, guide and protect them.”

At noon outside the Justice Center, which includes the headquarters of the Cleveland Division of Police, there were no signs of a demonstration.

The union’s statement did not mention the recent nationwide protests against police brutality. There was no central location for a demonstration and the CPPA declined to comment.

The nationwide protest movement has focused on reducing funding for police departments and redirecting money toward social issues like housing and mental health. City councilmembers in Minnesota pledged to dismantle the police department there in the wake of protests.

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said during a town hall event last week police reforms in Cleveland were already well under way, thanks to the 2015 consent decree, including hiring more minority officers and improved training.

“Every year there has to be training – training in constitutional policing, use-of-force, bias-free policing, crisis intervention. All those kinds of things that we know police officers have to know,” said Jackson.

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