Black Rookie Chicago Cop Leaves Police Union, Will Be City’s Only Active Officer Without Representation

Black Rookie Chicago Cop Leaves Police Union, Will Be City’s Only Active Officer Without Representation

Black rookie Chicago police officer Julius Givens has left the police union over criticism about kneeling. He will be the city’s only active officer without union representation. Image:

Rookie Chicago police officer Julius Givens made a powerful move that has outraged some and inspired others by opting out of his local police union, the Fraternal Order of Police.

Police unions don’t have the best of reputations with everyone in the general public. Some view them as protecting not only good cops but also cops who commit crimes and Givens wants none of it.

This makes him the only cop on the Chicago Police Department without union representation, Chicago Tribune reported.

Why did Givens, 30, make such a seemingly bold move?

He says he’s leaving the union because the leader of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7 criticized officers who kneeled in solidarity with protesters. “The FOP has never been welcoming to folks like me,” he told the Chicago Tribune.

In an open letter to the FOP, he wrote: “I request, effective immediately or the earliest possible date to terminate my membership, all relations, and communication with the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7. If I require any legal representation with regards to my duties as a police officer I will provide those services independent of Lodge 7 moving forward.”

It was not a decision Givens took lightly.

“I spoke with 22 (Black) officers that have 10-plus years on the job,” Givens told the Tribune. “And the first thing that they told me was, no, the FOP doesn’t represent me and they don’t stand for what I stand for, they aren’t who I am. And that was across the board.”

The FOP has not been welcoming to “folks like myself, being a Black man, a Black police officer. In its current form, in its current environment, that’s not even something I’m willing to participate in,” Givens said.

Lodge 7 has no Black officers in leadership posts, the Tribune reported. 

Police unions for the most part tend to be conservative, and few have any Black police in leadership roles. Over the past 50 years, police unions have become one of the most powerful lobbyists in local government and the loudest voices against criminal justice reform — especially when it comes to police use of force and discipline.

Because of the power they wield, Democrats sometimes try to “kiss up” to powerful unions — often at the expense of Black voters.

Givens said he made his decision after hearing Union President John Catanzara talk about the protests prompted by the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. Some police officers across the country had chosen to kneel in solidarity with protesters. Catanzara spoke out against this.

“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 during a WGN Radio interview on June 10.

“John,” Givens wrote, “I am bewildered that given your position as the leader of one of the most powerful unions in the United States, that you would respond in such a manner. To hear the cry of the people we serve and ignore it is a crime against humanity.”

Givens wasn’t the only police officer upset with Catanzara’s statement. So was Chicago Officer Carmella Means, a Black woman officer photographed kneeling in uniform holding a “Black Lives Matter” sign with a black-gloved fist raised toward the sky, Patch reported.

The photo of Means went viral. She told Fox32 that the photo was meant as a message to remind police union leaders that they “represent all members.”

Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 73: Jamarlin Martin Jamarlin makes the case for why this is a multi-factor rebellion vs. just protests about George Floyd. He discusses the Democratic Party’s sneaky relationship with the police in cities and states under Dem control, and why Joe Biden is a cop and the Steve Jobs of mass incarceration.

After the letter was posted, Catanzara said he spoke with Givens. “It’s his choice to go whichever way he wishes,” Catanzara said in an email to the Tribune. “This seems like part of a bigger plan, which is fine.”

Givens added, “My stance on kneeling officers has not changed and will not change.”

“Nobel Laureate, Elie Wiesel, reminds me to never remain silent… Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere,” Givens wrote. “My job as a police officer shows me that the public wants and desires a healthy partnership with us.”

He added, “Change is here. It’s right in front of us. If you can’t see it, you’re choosing not to. And I take pride in my colleagues knowing my position. The folks I work with, it’s no secret to them.”

On social media, Givens got plenty of support. “I wish Officer Julius Givens was the president of FOP Lodge 7. Absolutely brilliant and moving letter,” Mike Buresh tweeted.