Backing the blue takes back seat to Trump

by LZ Granderson

Last week, former President Donald Trump ratcheted up his efforts to turn Ashli Babbitt, the insurrectionist who was slain in the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, into a martyr. He went so far as to say she “truly loved America.” This — despite video of Babbitt climbing through a broken door in the Speaker’s Lobby, which led to the chambers where lawmakers were hiding during the terrorist attack that ultimately left more Americans dead than the one in Benghazi.

“The destruction of property, violent assaults on law enforcement officers, and imminent physical threats to elected officials betray the values of our democracy,” FBI Director Christopher A. Wray said in a statement before the House Oversight and Reform Committee in June.

Trump’s attempt to rebrand Babbit was in line with his continuing efforts to stoke support for his lie that the election was stolen. But what made this week’s statements particularly disturbing — even for him — was his characterizing the law enforcement officer who pulled the trigger as a murderer:

“We know who he is,” he said in the statement.

Feels like a threat to me.

But even if you don’t agree with my assessment, can we at least agree he’s not backing the blue?

Remember, this is a man who looked at the white nationalist rally in 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia — which occurred four years ago this month — and found “some very fine people on both sides.” No such grace for the police defending the Capitol, it seems.

“What makes the struggle harder and more painful is to know so many of my fellow citizens, including so many of the people I risked my life to defend, are downplaying or outright denying what happened,” Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone said in testimony recently before the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack.

Wonder how Fanone feels about Trump calling the fallen terrorist a hero and his fellow officer a murderer?

Also last week, residents in Chicago gathered to mourn Police Officer Ella French, who was shot and killed during a traffic stop last Saturday night. Bars and restaurants are holding fundraisers, kids are selling lemonade, blue ribbons are tied to utility poles, all in support of French as well as her partner, who is still recovering. The night of the incident about 30 police officers turned their backs on Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot after she arrived at the hospital, clearly frustrated by Lightfoot’s law enforcement policies.

“They have had enough and are no longer going to remain silent anymore,” union President John Catanzara told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Interesting comments coming from Catanzara, who last summer threatened to kick officers out of the union for kneeling in solidarity with Black Lives Matter protesters.

His comments are even more troubling when you consider that Catanzara, a vocal Trump supporter, initially downplayed the Jan. 6 attack as “a bunch of pissed-off people that feel an election was stolen, somehow, some way.” He added it was “beyond stupid” to view the actions of people violently trying to stop the peaceful transfer of power as treasonous.

I guess that’s better than Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., saying the Capitol Police officer who shot Babbitt was “lying in wait,” painting the officer’s actions as premeditated murder as opposed to, I don’t know, heroic, given the circumstances.

Look, without question, progressives like Lightfoot are struggling to find the right balance between supporting law enforcement while pushing for meaningful, necessary reform. Senate Democrats didn’t earn any gold stars from the far left when they voted to pass Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s amendment to the budget bill to withhold federal funds from municipalities that “defund the police.”

But Democrats are willing to acknowledge the attack on constitutional government on Jan. 6 as well as the selflessness of law enforcement officers who risked their lives to protect our democracy. That’s more than can be said for the far right, which spent the week reminding everyone that backing the blue will always take a back seat to backing Trump.

But don’t take my word for it — take theirs.

LZ Granderson is an op-ed columnist for the Los Angeles Times.