The president of Chicago's Fraternal Order of Police said cops who kneel with protesters will face consequences, even possibly being kicked out of the union.
"I've made it very clear to the members of Lodge 7 that that has no place for our members," FOP President John Catanzara said of police taking a knee while in uniform during George Floyd protests. "That is contradicting to our constitution as a lodge and it definitely deflates anything remotely associated with fraternalism and as such, any member of Lodge 7 who is going to take a knee and basically side with protesters while they're in uniform will subject themselves to discipline in the lodge up to and including expulsion from Lodge 7."
Catanzara said police officers are welcome to protest and kneel with protesters on their own time and if they are out of uniform.
When asked about Catanzara's comments, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) said, "There will be a reckoning" for the Fraternal Order of Police. "And I think that moment is now and that's what I'll say about that."
Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown said that there are bigger issues to deal with right now.
"It's just hard to take those kinds of comments serious as we deal with COVID environment, historically high violent crime and now misconduct as relation to civil unrest," Brown said. "How does that bubble up to the most important thing to comment? It's not. I'll answer my own question. It's not as important as what we're dealing with and I won't dignify it with an answer."
Catanzara, who is a 25-year veteran of the force, has made his own political statements while in uniform. In 2017, Catanzara posted a photo on social media of himself in uniform, in front of a CPD SUV, holding an American flag, and with a sign that read: "I stand for the anthem. I love the American flag. I support my president and the 2nd Amendment."
During an interview with WGN Radio this week, Catanzara was asked if his current stance on police officers kneeling contradicts his old social media post that supported President Donald Trump's criticisms of NFL players kneeling during the national anthem.
"My post was patriotic support of all things American," Catanzara responded. "If people cannot see the difference between kneeling in support of voices saying the police are the problem in society and should be defunded or even abolished, then there really is no reason to continue any dialog. It's an apple and automobile comparison."
Cantanzara was suspended for posting the photo because it violated CPD's code of conduct that prohibits officers from participating "in any partisan political campaign or activity."
Catanzara was elected as the president of Chicago's Fraternal Order of Police last month. "He is currently relieved of his police powers and under investigation by the department on allegations related to a 2018 police report he filed against then-police Superintendent Eddie Johnson. Catanzara accused him of breaking the law by allowing marchers onto the Dan Ryan Expressway to protest city violence," the Chicago Tribune reported.
Earlier this week, a video of Georgia State Trooper O'Neal Saddler went viral after he refused to kneel during a Black Lives Matter protest in Hartwell, Georgia. In another viral video, a police chief participated in a die-in during a Black Lives Matter protest by laying on the ground for eight minutes and 46 seconds.
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