Republicans often shun Democrats for focusing too much on victims of gun violence and not enough on law enforcement officials who risk their lives working in harm’s way.
So on Thursday, the blue party made a point to emphasize the importance of protecting police by inviting family members of officers who died in the line of duty.
Joining them at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia was Dallas Sheriff Lupe Valdez who spoke of the heartbreak over the loss of five Dallas police officers killed by a heavily armed sniper during a protest against police brutality.
“Even though our men and women in uniform are hurting we never stop doing the job,” Valdez told delegates.
But inside the convention center, the tension between focusing on the killing of police or the death of unarmed citizens at the hands of authorities was on full display when a moment of silence to honor fallen officers led by Valdez was interrupted by a select few in the crowd who briefly chanted “Black Lives Matter.”
Four family members of police officers from Cleveland, Philadelphia and Chicago who were killed in the line of duty followed.
Jennifer Loudon, who lost her husband Thor Soderberg, told of his compassion on the job, helping a child he met who couldn’t afford a belt and instead had his pants held up by a rope.
“Let us honor all of the fallen officers who weren’t named here today but acting as our officers did: Helping others, bridging communities and building peace,” Loudon said.
Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., said focusing on victims and police officers was “mutually exclusive.”
“We have to recognize that they’re both atrocities that we don’t stand for,” Richmond said. “We don’t stand for unarmed people being killed and we certainly don’t stand for people killing our law enforcement.”
Inviting law enforcement into the limelight may also be a way for Democrats to widen their coalition of interests in pushing for gun control, said Adam Winkler, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles.
“Democrats are hoping that voters will see that law enforcement is an important partner,” Winkler said.