Police Officers Association of Michigan endorses Trump during Grand Rapids event on border security •

Members of Michigan law enforcement flanked former President Donald Trump on Tuesday, offering their support as the Republican condemned the murder of a Grand Rapids woman, who law enforcement asserts was killed by a romantic partner in the country illegally after he was previously deported.

On March 22, Ruby Garcia, 25, was shot and killed and left on the side of the highway in Grand Rapids. According to court records obtained by the Advance, a romantic partner of Garcia’s, 25-year-old Brandon Ortiz-Vite, called 911 two days later to confess to killing Garcia. Ortiz-Vite told Michigan State Police he shot Garcia multiple times during an argument, before leaving her body on the side of the highway, according to Grand Rapids court records obtained by the Advance.

“Under the Trump administration, this monster had been deported, thrown out of the country, wasn’t going to be able to come back. … Crooked Joe Biden let him come back and let him back in and let him stay in and he viciously killed Ruby,” Trump said. “He was set loose to roam our streets and this case set loose to roam in Michigan by politicians that are left and weak and stupid.”

Michigan Police Officers Association of Michigan (POAM) President James Tignanelli said he hopes that in the future with leaders like Trump, honor will be restored to the law enforcement profession. 

“There’s no way we can have a president in the United States that allows 3 million people a year or more, I’m sure, to come into our country illegally. We can’t allow that to continue,” Tignanelli said. 

President of the Michigan Police Officers Association of Michigan, or POAM, James Tignanelli (left) offers POAM’s endorsement to former President Donald Trump (right) for the 2024 presidential Election on April 2, 2024. (Photo: Anna Liz Nichols)

In Southwest Michigan, Van Buren County Sheriff Daniel Abbott said at Trump’s event that of the 40% of the individuals in the county jail, 10% of the individuals are from Mexico or Guatemala.

“They’re not in our jail by coincidence. We didn’t just see them walking down the road and say ‘I don’t think you belong here.’ They’re in our jail because they committed crimes,” Abbott said. “If you look at the heinous crimes that they committed, the ones that really jump out at us are all the violent sex crimes. And it’s not just against adults, it’s against our children.”

Trump made a joke at the event, saying Garcia’s killer will face justice, unlike other individuals who he claimed come to this country illegally to commit crimes and joked that it seems like these days he’s “the only one who has to put up a bond.” This is in reference to the $175 million bond he posted Monday in his New York civil fraud case as he appeals a recent ruling that he pay more than $450 million for lying on financial statements, inflating the perception of his wealth in order to close business deals.

Trump faces a total of 88 criminal charges across four criminal cases from his indictments for falsifying business records, interfering with the 2020 election, withholding classified documents from his presidency and his actions regarding the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol that left five dead and 114 police officers injured.

Tignanelli added that he hopes Trump will be elected again and support legislation to assign the death penalty for anyone who kills a police officer while they’re on duty. And with cheers from across the room, the POAM offered its endorsement to Trump for the 2024 election.

Allegan County Sheriff Frank Baker speaks during a visit from former President Donald Trump on April 2, 2024. (Photo: Anna Liz Nichols)

“We endorsed you in 2016. We were the first guys in Michigan,” Tignanelli said. “We were there in 2020 and I tell you, we’re here in 2024. Today on behalf of the 12,000 law enforcement people that the Police Officers Association of Michigan represents, we want you to accept our endorsement for president of the United States.”

But not all members of law enforcement believe that Trump has had their back. On Monday, former U.S. Capitol Police Sergeant Aquilino Gonell, alongside other members of law enforcement, expressed feelings of betrayal by Trump over his rhetoric surrounding the Jan. 6, 2021, attack.

“His failure to denounce violence on Jan. 6, 2021, is a slap in the face to every officer who put their life on the line that day,” Gonell said. “He doesn’t give a damn about us.”

Trump hasn’t called any of the police officers who were injured by Trump’s supporters on the day of the attack, Gonnell said, and instead he’s been trying to paint the events of the attack on the nation’s capital as nonviolent.

“We were being attacked. We were being crushed. Members of Congress were rushing to some of these areas to hide for refuge or escape the building,” Gonell said. “If it wasn’t for what we did on that day, I don’t think they would have made it out.”

President Joe Biden campaign spokesperson TJ Ducklo slammed Trump after the Grand Rapids event.

Biden campaign, Jan. 6 officers decry Trump use of ‘political violence’ in post of video

“Donald Trump pretends he cares about violence against police officers, but apparently not the ones who lost their lives after being violently assaulted by his supporters. He calls their attackers ‘hostages’ and has promised to release them from prison if he gets reelected. Trump is a fraud, lying about losing the last election to Joe Biden and running a campaign of revenge and retribution all to get power for himself,” Ducklo said.

Many Democratic elected officials expressed concern over Trump’s visit, condemning the visit as a political grab using a young woman’s death by domestic violence as a platform for right-wing anti immigration rhetoric. 

A joint statement from Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids) and state Reps. Carol Glanville (D-Walker), Kristian Grant (D-Grand Rapids), Rachel Hood (D-Grand Rapids), John Fitzgerald (D-Wyoming) and Phil Skaggs (D-East Grand Rapids) condemned the visit, saying Trump’s rhetoric stokes xenophobia and doesn’t represent West Michigan’s values.

“We unequivocally reject any attempt to exploit this tragedy for political gain, and we support the pursuit of justice for the family of Ruby Garcia,” the statement reads. “Donald Trump’s visit to our community seeks to perversely twist this profound loss in our community to further exacerbate tensions and deepen divisions. His past actions and statements have fueled hatred and bigotry and only serve to foster an environment of unnecessary suspicion and fear directed against marginalized communities.”

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authored by Anna Liz Nichols
First published at https%3A%2F%2Fmichiganadvance.com%2F2024%2F04%2F03%2Fpolice-officers-association-of-michigan-endorses-trump-during-grand-rapids-event-on-border-security%2F

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