CHICAGO — The president of Chicago’s Fraternal Order of Police is taking a hard stand against police officers who kneel with protesters.
In an interview with WGN Radio’s Bob Sirott, John Catanzara said if officers want to side with demonstrators, they should do it out of uniform on their own time.
“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.
Critics of Catanzara’s comments were quick to point out the FOP president’s own controversial social media post back in 2017. He posted a photo of himself in Chicago police uniform, in front of a squad car, with a sign that said: “I stand for the anthem/I love the American flag/I support my president and the 2nd Amendment.”
Catanzara posted the photo in the wake of President Donald Trump’s criticism of the NFL and players kneeling during the national anthem.
When asked about his comments on WGN Radio and how they might contradict his past actions, he said:
“My post was patriotic support of all things American. 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.”-John Catanzara, FOP president
As for plans to add more oversight for police, Catanzara called them an effort to undermine protections in officers’ contracts. He said he doesn’t believe race played any role in the death of George Floyd. He said it was a poor use of police tactics instead.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Catanzara is believed to be the first FOP president elected while stripped of his police powers. He was relieved of his powers over a dispute involving former CPD Supt. Eddie Johnson.