Widow of Retired Officer Chokes Up Eulogizing Him in RNC Speech His Daughters Opposed
The widow of retired St. Louis police Capt. David Dorn — killed in June — choked up Thursday night during the Republican National Convention while talking about her husband's death and arguing that “violence and destruction are not legitimate forms of protest."
Ann Dorn said "President Trump understands this" while she delivered remarks in support of Donald Trump — against the wishes of her late husband's daughters, according to interviews they gave Wednesday to the St. Louis American.
“We know his wife is a Trump supporter, but he was not,” Debra White, one of Dorn's daughters, told the American. “He frequently said they were not able to talk about politics because they were at the opposite ends of the spectrum. I know he would not want his legacy to be for his death to be used to further Trump’s law-and-order agenda.”
White told the American that her dad "knew Trump supported police officers, [but] he also knew that Trump said when you are arresting someone, you should go ahead and bump their heads when you are putting them in the squad car. Those are the things he opposed.”
At the RNC, Dorn's widow recounted the night her husband was killed while trying to stop a break-in at a St. Louis pawn shop on June 2, amid protests in the city over the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis the week before.
“I relive that horror in my mind every single day,” said Ann, who is a sergeant with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. “My hope is having you relive it with me now will help shake this country from this nightmare that we’re living in our cities.”
The Trump campaign made a pro-police, anti-demonstrator pitch central to this week's messaging — almost certainly aimed at white suburban voters, many of whom have fled from the GOP since 2016 — as a slew of speakers supporting the president vowed that the his administration would ensure "law and order" is imposed in communities across the country, following months of unrest and demonstrations against injustice catalyzed by Floyd's killing.
While many of the protests have been peaceful, some have spasmed into violence and destruction.
The Trump administration's response to the ongoing protests and subsequent clashes with authorities has been criticized, particularly for episodes such as protestors being cleared for a photo-op at a church, while White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway told Fox News earlier Thursday that she believed the unrest benefited Trump's re-election.
“The more chaos and anarchy and vandalism and violence reigns, the better it is for the very clear choice on who’s best on public safety and law and order,” said Conway, who helped lead Trump's 2016 campaign to victory.
Police say that Dorn, 77, had attempted to stop the break-in at Lee’s Pawn & Jewelry in St. Louis when he was shot and killed. Two suspects have since been arrested in connection with his death, according to local TV station KSDK. (It was not immediately clear if those suspects had entered pleas.)
"David is never, never coming back to me," Ann said Thursday at the RNC. "He was murdered by people who didn’t know and just didn’t care."
But Dorn's two daughters, Debra White and Lisa Dorn, said before Ann's appearance at the RNC that they didn't agree with her politically positioning their late father with Trump's often inflammatory politics.
“He was blue through and through, but he also was a man, a Black man, and he knew some not so good things come out of police departments," Lisa told the St. Louis American. "He tried to make a difference as much as he could, but he was part of a system with systematic racism.”
Lisa added that she hoped by the time Ann spoke that she "realizes there is no place for my father’s death in the Trump administration or the Republican National Convention.”
“Our father did not agree with many policies and actions of this president that are aimed at disenfranchising many Black and Brown people,” Lisa continued. “Our father was a registered Democrat. He thought Trump is doing many things to ruin our country.”
The family's disagreement over the political use of Dorn's death highlights the way both major parties have framed policing's role in the debate over the country's racial injustice in recent weeks.
While Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden does not support leftist calls to "defund" or "abolish" police departments, as speakers from the Republican Party have falsely stated throughout this week's convention, the 77-year-old nominee said during last week's Democratic National Convention that "most cops are good, but the fact is the bad ones need to be identified and prosecuted.”
Trump has repeatedly called for cities to allow the federal government to send in the their agents to quell protests, while some governors have blasted the president for "divisive" rhetoric surrounding the demonstrations.
“President Trump knows we need more Davids in our communities," Ann said Thursday, reflecting the president's viewpoint on the ongoing demonstrations. "Not fewer."
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