John Catanzara, the new president of the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police told Fox32 Chicago that he didn’t believe the current Black Lives Matter protests that broke out after the death of George Floyd were the “time or place” to be kneeling.
“If you kneel, you’ll be risking being brought up on charges and thrown out of the lodge,” Catanzara, who has been in office for a month, told Fox32.
“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.”
Catanzara added that it was “an act of treason”for officers to kneel with protestors.
Police have been photographed kneeling with protesters at demonstrations across the US, as tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets daily calling for police reform and the end of police violence. There have also been reports of police officers driving squad cars into crowds, attacking people with pepper spray and batons, and shooting rubber bullets at journalists and demonstrators.
In New York, one NYPD lieutenant apologized for taking a knee with protesters and fellow police department members.
“The conditions prior to the decision to take a knee were very difficult as we were put center stage with the entire crowd chanting,” he wrote in his apology, seen by the New York Post. “I know I made the wrong decision. We didn’t know how the protesters would have reacted if we didn’t and were attempting to reduce any extra violence.”
When asked about Catanzara’s comments, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said they didn’t “dignify” a response.