Alanna Hoyer-Leitzel: Concerns with Trump’s ‘Back the Blue’ rallies

  • Dozens of residents turned out to parade through New Ipswich for a "Trump Train" and "Back the Blue" parade on Friday evening. Staff photos by Ashley Saari

  • Dozens of residents turned out to parade through New Ipswich for a "Trump Train" and "Back the Blue" parade on Friday evening. Staff photos by Ashley Saari

Published: 9/16/2020 3:14:59 PM

There was a series of standouts around the Pioneer Valley on Labor Day weekend that were advertised as a pro-Trump and “Back the Blue” rallies.

While I don’t support Trump, I believe one can and should participate in our nation’s political conversations. So if these were just pro-Trump rallies, I wouldn’t be so upset.

However, I am very upset about these rallies. What I take issue with is mixing pro-Trump support with support for police. When these two causes come together, it promotes Trump’s “law and order” — a complicated idea that hides racism and authoritarianism behind surveillance, control and patriotism.

Trump’s “law and order” claims dissenters are unpatriotic, are evil, are dangerous. Trump’s “law and order” villainizes Black people, Latinx people, and immigrants. Trump’s “law and order” calls on police to become tools of his authoritarian government. Trump and those saying “Back the Blue” do not actually support police.

To support police, we need to consider the enormous burden we’ve placed on police forces by taking away or under-supporting other public services. We ask our police to protect us from and take care of us in violent situations like domestic abuse, to deescalate conflicts between neighbors, to monitor traffic, to respond to drug overdoses, but also to respond to mental health crises, including children in crisis at our schools.

The skills for one situation do not apply to the others, and we ask too much of one job. In order to truly support police, we would fund other types of first responders and social services, so that police can focus on the parts of their job that directly match their training and skills.

Our local police forces do their best to keep our community safe. I feel awful that they are put in a position where community support for their work is conflated with Trump’s rhetoric that supports police, but only if the police protect government and property, rather than people. It is a clever political tool that threatens our safety as a community.

These Trump and “Back the Blue” rallies were not in our best interests.

Alanna Hoyer-Leitzel

South Hadley




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