The president of Chicago’s Fraternal Order of Police said that any member officers who “take a knee” in solidarity with Black Lives Matter protesters could be charged and thrown out of the organization, reports The Hill.
John Catanzara told local outlet WGN Radio that “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.” Lodge 7 is the Chicago chapter of The Grand Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police, a nonprofit organization established in 1915.
He also told Fox12, “if you kneel, you’ll be risking being brought up on charges and thrown out of the lodge.”
Catanzara also said that the Minneapolis officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck during the arrest, Derek Chauvin, used “an absolute improper police tactic.”
“There’s no proof or evidence that race had anything to do with it,” Catanzara said, dismissing claims that police departments are inherently and institutionally flawed and built on racist principles, and that police disproportionately target people of color and in particular black Americans. “Some people are just violent by nature. Unfortunately, every now and then, some of those people end up wearing a badge.”
He then went on to say that officers kneeling in solidarity will not be tolerated.
“I’ve made it very clear to the members of Lodge 7 that that has no place for our members,” Catanzara said. “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.”
He said that what member officers do on their personal time is a separate matter.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) took issue with Catanzara’s threat, telling reporters that “there will be a reckoning” for the Chicago Lodge 7 and concluded with, “And I think that moment is now and that’s what I’ll say about that.”
The Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown also pushed back on Catanzara’s comments.
“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 per NBC5 Chicago. “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.”