CHICAGO - The new president of Chicago’s powerful police union has issued a stern warning to officers. He says any officers showing sympathy to police protesters while in uniform could be thrown out of the union.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot isn’t happy about it.
“I don’t believe it’s the time or place to be doing that,” said Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara.
In office for only a month, Catanzara is laying down the law for his members.
“If you kneel, you’ll be risking being brought up on charges and thrown out of the lodge,” Catanzara said.
It has become a common scene over the past week, seeing police officers around the country kneeling with protesters as a symbolic show of support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
But Catanzara says it is essentially an act of treason for police officers, because those protesters are pushing for policies he says will hurt the police.
“Specifically this weekend. This was about defunding and abolishing the police officers. And you’re going to take a knee for that? It’s ridiculous,” Catanzara said.
When asked about Catanzara’s threat, Mayor Lightfoot – who has been extremely critical of the FOP – took a hard pass.
“I don’t really think we should credit those kinds of really unfortunate comments. I’m not going to dignify them with any further response,” the mayor said.
Anyone kicked out of the FOP will still be able to work as a Chicago police officer, but they will not have all the benefits and protections afforded by the union contract.
In 2017, Catanzara got into trouble when he posted a photo of himself in uniform on Facebook with a sign supporting President Donald Trump, gun rights and standing for the anthem.
He says kneeling Officers are doing the same, just on the other end of the political spectrum.
“Well that’s a political stance. I want to see what happens on the department level. I’m going to guess nothing because the mayor supports this kind of stuff,” Catanzara said.