Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill) isn’t mincing words about his opinion of the Chicago Police union.
Over the weekend, the Chicago Democratic congressman Rep. Rush likened Chicago’s largest police union, the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7, to the Ku Klux Klan, saying the two organizations “are like kissing, hugging, and law-breaking cousins.”
“The No. 1 cause that prevents police accountability, that promotes police corruption, that protects police lawlessness, is a culprit called the Fraternal Order of Police,” Rush said in an interview with Politico. “They’re the organized guardians of continuous police lawlessness, of police murder and police brutality. The Chicago Fraternal Order of Police is the most rabid, racist body of criminal lawlessness by police in the land. It stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the Ku Klux Klan then and the Ku Klux Klan now.”
Rush, who co-founded the Illinois chapter of the Black Panthers in the 1960s, made these comments after Chicago police officers were caught on video lounging in the congressman’s Chicago office for hours while violent police protests were erupting in the city the weekend of May 30 and May 31.
The police union did not respond to a request for comment, Politico reported.
In an earlier news conference, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, top Chicago police brass and Rep. Rush criticized the police caught lounging on tape, including three supervisors, saying their actions were indefensible.
According to city officials, police officers entered Rush’s office after vandals had broken in. Then they stayed inside, napping, popping popcorn and making coffee. They left behind a one-dollar bill on his desk, in what he considered a gesture of disrespect, Politico reported.
Outraged, Rush said the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7 and the Ku Klux Klan “are like kissing, hugging, and law-breaking cousins.” He went on to say the union has a long history of protecting its bad apples instead of expelling them from their ranks.
Mayor Lightfoot was upset as well. “Looting was going on, buildings were being burned, officers were on the front lines truly taking a beating with bottles and pipes, and these guys were lounging — in a congressman’s office,” Lightfoot said. “The utter contempt and disrespect is hard to imagine.”
Meanwhile, the president of the union claimed that Rush’s staff had asked that the officers sit in his office on the night of the protests. A Rush spokesman said that was not true.
In response to Lightfoot, union president John Catanzara told Chicago’s NBC news affiliate, “Shame on her for ever questioning their valor and the heroism and the officers of CPD to make it sound like they were letting other officers get the crap beat out of them while they sat there and slept. That is a disgusting accusation. She owes the men and women an apology for even implying that was.”
Catanzara has been in the news before. He and Donald Trump have publicly praised each other, which raised some eyebrows. Catanzara is relatively new to the union position and has spoken out against officers’ decisions to kneel with protesters at Black Lives Matter demonstrations in an interview with Fox32 Chicago.
Now is not the “time or place” to be kneeling with protestors, Catanzara said. Officers risk “being brought up on charges and thrown out of the lodge” if they do so. In fact, he said that any officer who kneels with Black Lives Matter protestors could be kicked out of the union, Insider reported.
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“If you kneel, you’ll be risking being brought up on charges and thrown out of the lodge,” Catanzara told Fox32. “This was about defunding and abolishing the police officers. And you’re going to take a knee for that? It’s ridiculous.”
The union has been without a contract since July 2017. Catanzara said the current plan is to head back into negotiations with the city and postpone the arbitration process, WTTW reported.