Ohio House candidate loses police endorsement for supporting Black Lives Matter

Written by Cameron Knight, Published in Cincinnati Enquirer

Ohio Democratic House candidate Sara Bitter has lost her endorsement from Cincinnati’s police union for her support of Black Lives Matter.

Bitter is an attorney, disabilities rights advocate and a mother from Symmes Township. She said growing up she often celebrated Christmas at a Fraternal Order of Police lodge because her step-father and uncles were officers.

She learned the endorsement was pulled from this reporter and wondered why the union did not contact her directly with this decision. The union gave her its endorsement this summer after civil unrest in Cincinnati and across the country in response to George Floyd’s death in police custody in Minneapolis.

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The Hamilton County GOP released a media statement Thursday announcing that the union was pulling their support. FOP president Dan Hils confirmed to The Enquirer that the Republican Party’s statements on the issue were accurate.

“We found that some of the statements she made to the endorsement committee were not consistent with some remarks found on video,” Hils said. He declined to comment further on the matter, but has criticized the Black Lives Matter organization in the past.

Bitter is challenging Rep. Tom Brinkman, R-Mount Lookout, in a competitive race for the Ohio House of Representative’s 27th District, which includes eastern Hamilton County. The Cincinnati FOP has not endorsed Brinkman.

The GOP statement says Bitter “posted to her Twitter account that she was gladly passing out Black Lives Matter signs and folks should contact her to get them.”

The party calls Black Lives Matter an “anti-police” group that supports defunding police and has “openly attacked the work of police officers.”

Bitter does not deny that she supports Black Lives Matter. She said she recognizes the historic inequalities and wants Black people to know their lives count.

To me, it’s about valuing Black lives,” she told The Enquirer. “Of course, police lives matter. I believe in police officers. I’m fighting for police officers.”

Bitter said she does not support defunding law enforcement and, if elected, would advocate for them to receive more funding.

Two polls show that a majority of Ohio residents support Black Lives Matter and police. A Baldwin Wallace University poll showed that 52.8% of Ohioans support Black Lives Matter. A Quinnipiac Poll showed 74% of Ohio residents approve of the way police are doing their jobs.

Bitter says, if elected, she’ll fight for police regardless of an endorsement, just like she’ll fight for firefighters, teachers and other frontline workers, many of which have endorsed her.

With pending police reforms being pushed at the state level, she said police officers should want her in the state government.

“I take it personally,” Bitter said of the FOP’s actions. “There’s a union and then there’s police officers.”

Bitter also earned the endorsement of Friends of the Sentinels, an arm of a group representing Black police officers in Cincinnati. Sentinel President Louis Arnold confirmed the endorsement stands Thursday.

Bitter said she got in the race to create a disability, mental heath and addiction caucus in Ohio’s legislature.

“If they want to pull my endorsement because I can say the words ‘Black lives matter,’ it says more about them than me,” Bitter said. “I think they’re just being political.”

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