John Catanzara, head of the Fraternal Order of Police Chicago Lodge 7, sent a warning after officers around the country in uniform were seen kneeling to support calls to reform police departments.
“I don’t believe it’s the time or place to be doing that,” Catanzara told Fox32 in Chicago. “If you kneel, you’ll be risking being … thrown out of the lodge,” he added.
Catanzara said he’s taken up his stance because many of the protesters are calling to defund or even abolish police departments in the wake of Floyd’s death.
“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 told the Fox affiliate station.
His remarks prompted a response from Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who has come under fire after she reportedly got into a spat with local officials over the city’s response to violent unrest in recent days.
“I don’t really think we should credit those kinds of really unfortunate comments,” Lightfoot, who has long been a critic of the Chicago police union, told the news outlet, without elaborating. “I’m not going to dignify them with any further response,” she added.
Catanzara, meanwhile, faced criticism several years ago after he posted a photo of himself in uniform supporting President Donald Trump, the Second Amendment, and standing during the national anthem.
Officers who take a knee, he said, are on the other side of the political spectrum and should also face criticism.
“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 remarked.
In recent days, other police union officials have spoken out against a perceived growing antipathy towards officers following Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody. Former officer Derek Chauvin was arrested and charged with second-degree murder in the case, and three other former officers also face charges in connection to Floyd’s death.
New York Police Benevolent Association President Mike O’Meara said Wednesday that legacy news outlets are sowing discord.
“We are portrayed in the press and everywhere else as the enemy and we want people to know that we take our jobs seriously, we’re professional, and the vast, vast majority of the time we act appropriately and honorably and that’s what we do and that’s not being portrayed right now in the media and in the world,” he told Fox News.