John McNesby, president of the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police, has said his union is bound by the National Fraternal Order of Police which endorsed Trump on Friday. (Philadelphia Tribune File Photo)

John McNesby, president of the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police, has said his union is bound by the National Fraternal Order of Police which endorsed Trump on Friday. (Philadelphia Tribune File Photo)

A local organization that represents African-American police officers has denounced the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police’s decision to support Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Rochelle Bilal, head of the Philadelphia Guardian Civic League, which represents about 2,500 African-American officers, said Monday the organization did not support the local FOP’s decision to back Trump.

The Philadelphia FOP, the bargaining union for all city police, announced Sunday night that it was officially endorsing Trump.

“Our Local is saying that they have to follow the lead,” Bilal told the Tribune. “We are saying that you don’t — that when you know that you got Black, brown and other members of this organization, if you don’t care about supporting an outrageous bigot, then you need to find a way to give us our money back from our membership.

“We don’t like that decision and we will do all that we can to ensure that those conscious members do not follow that lead,” Bilal stressed.

The FOP’s decision has left Bilal wondering if the organization’s officials actually care about their members of color.

“I’m calling for all civic organizations around the country that are members of the Fraternal Order of Police to step up nationally against the support of a bigot candidate,” Bilal added.

FOP Lodge No.5 President John McNesby was out of town attending a conference and could not immediately be reached for comment, his organization said Monday. McNesby has been cited in published reports saying the union is bound by the National Fraternal Order of Police, which endorsed Trump on Friday.

“We have a candidate who declined to seek an endorsement and a candidate without any record as an elected official. Mr. Trump, however has seriously looked at issues facing law enforcement today,” Chuck Canterbury, the FOP’s national president, said in a news release. “He understands and supports our priorities and our members believe he will make America safe again.”

Trump responded to a 12-page questionnaire from the FOP and met with its leaders last month.

“He took the time off the campaign trail and met with us to talk about our issues, our priorities,” Canterbury said. “He’s made a real commitment to America’s law enforcement and we’re proud to make a commitment to him and his campaign by endorsing his candidacy today.”

The FOP is the largest law enforcement labor organization in the United States with more than 330,000 members.

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross declined to comment on the endorsement. But did say this:

“As you know, the Fraternal Order of Police and the police department are two separate entities,” Ross said in an email to the Tribune. “As commissioner I do not weigh in on political matters, including decisions by the FOP to endorse particular candidates. Clearly I have a personal opinion, but I will respectfully keep that to myself.”

Calvin Tucker, chairman of the Philadelphia Black Republican Council, said key endorsements were extremely important to Trump’s campaign.

“I think that what he’s trying to do is achieve as much support as he can and the FOP’s endorsement is part of that process,” Tucker said. “It’s also evidence that the FOP and the police officers under that understand that he is respectful not just of all citizens, but of the police and work that they do on behalf of the citizens of Philadelphia and of the country.

Minister Rodney Muhammad, president of Philadelphia’s NAACP chapter, said he was not surprised that the FOP had backed Trump.

“He seems to be leaning more toward protections for law enforcement officers than the people that they are supposed to be serving,” Muhammad said. “If they are supporting a presidential candidate like that, they are telling us what kind of America they want to see because Donald Trump has made his agenda clear.

“On one hand he talks about making jobs but he doesn’t seem to be concerned with issues like racial profiling, except that he wants to profile different groups, either banning them or sending them back to the countries that they come from,” he added.

Muhammad said he sees a contradiction in the city FOP’s decision to endorse Trump.

“If you have a culturally diverse group of people making up the Fraternal Order of Police here and they go and endorse Donald Trump who has not demonstrated that he is diverse in his thinking, there seems to be a great contradiction here,” he said. “Donald Trump has a view of America that doesn’t hold a bright promise for many of us who live here. We have to ask ourselves what kind of America the FOP wants to see, what kind of Philadelphia do they want to see with candidate like this running for office?”

For a candidate to receive the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police, he must receive a two-third majority of the National Board, which is made up of one trustee from each of the organization’s state lodges.

The city FOP’s move to endorse Trump comes almost two months after McNesby slammed Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for allowing relatives of people killed by police to speak at the Democratic National Convention, held in Philadelphia, without giving equal time to families of fallen police officers.

“The Fraternal Order of Police is insulted and will soon not forget that the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton are excluding the widows and other family members of police officers killed in the line of duty who were victims of explicit and not implied racism and ‘being on duty in blue,’ ” McNesby wrote in a statement.

 ajones@phillytrib.com

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