This is an opinion piece from Adam Serwer of The Atlantic about the National Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) and the Jan.6 Trump inspired capitol riots.
This like a lot of Atlantic articles is long, and I’m not going to try to summarize the article in 3 paragraphs. Instead I’m going to pull 3 paragraphs out that I thought hit the nail on the head.
This opinion piece starts off with the FOP feeling they needed to “clear up confusion” about its position on the January 6 assault on the Capitol by enraged Donald Trump supporters.
In the statement, the FOP does the obligatory stuff about their love and support for their members and that “Those who participated in the assaults, looting, and trespassing must be arrested and held to account,”.
That they felt a need to “clear up confusion” may have been the result of Officer Michael Fanone, who called them out for their lack of support for the Jan 6 policemen on duty at the time of the riots.
The FOP does not often have to clarify its position on matters of public concern; the organization is usually rather strident in expressing its views. For example, in 2016, the FOP demanded that Walmart cease selling black lives matter T-shirts. It denounced Nike for its ad campaign involving Colin Kaepernick, who was purged from the NFL for protesting police misconduct. If you go to the FOP’s Twitter feed, you can find a steady stream of clips from conservative outlets such as Newsmax and Fox News showing FOP representatives attacking policies like bail reform, slamming Democratic elected officials, and blaming Black-rights activists for the recent rise in homicides. These posts are interspersed with tributes to homicide victims, attacking “rogue prosecutors,” “activist judges,” and “progressive policies” for their deaths.
What you won’t find on the national FOP Twitter feed, however, are condemnations of the Capitol rioters who attacked police officers on January 6 deploying this sort of unrestrained bombast. You won’t find any clips of FOP members on Fox News confronting its prime-time hosts for mocking the testimony of police officers who faced the mob that day. You won’t even find the FOP highlighting the compelling testimony of those officers, whose recollections paint a vivid picture of the rioters and their motives. You will find only the FOP’s careful statement seeking to clear up “confusion” about its position, a deeply unusual situation for the FOP to be in.
Because the right hold the police in such high regard, the Fraternal Order of Police is uniquely positioned to disabuse conservatives of the idea that the rioters were heroic or that the riot itself was carried out by leftists, and any other manner of conspiracy theories deployed to obfuscate what happened on January 6. The organization is ideally suited to pressure Republican lawmakers to support the commission examining the incident, and to criticize those who seek to turn that process into a circus or rewrite the events of the day. The union could use its stature to attack the legitimacy of right-wing political violence, and to reject the harmful notion that the role of American police is to act as a partisan militia, rather than to impartially enforce the law.
Ok, one more short wrap it up paragraph.
Perhaps the nation’s largest police union simply does not see trying to overthrow an election in the name of Donald Trump as such a betrayal. But a commitment to democracy is not a position that an organization representing armed agents of the state should ever have to “clarify.” That it did so only through gritted teeth gives the public little reason to trust its sincerity.