Sup­port­ers back 2 cops fac­ing union dis­ci­pline for kneel­ing

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY MITCH DUDEK, STAFF RE­PORTER mdudek@sun­times.com | @mitch­dudek

Al­lies of two fe­male Chicago po­lice of­fi­cers fac­ing union dis­ci­pline for kneel­ing in sup­port of pro­test­ers gath­ered Tues­day out­side the Fra­ter­nal Or­der of Po­lice head­quar­ters in the West Loop.

Of­fi­cer Carmella Means was pho­tographed hold­ing a Black Lives Mat­ter sign when she knelt, with a raised fist, out­side the union’s head­quar­ters in par­tial uni­form while off duty. Of­fi­cer Abi­gail An­tunez was on duty when she knelt dur­ing a protest out­side Chicago’s po­lice academy.

Both face in­ter­nal union charges that in­clude “a lack of pro­mot­ing fra­ter­nal­ism” that stem from com­plaints lodged by fel­low mem­bers, union Pres­i­dent John Catan­zara said.

The union will hold hear­ings in Au­gust that will lead to rec­om­men­da­tions to board mem­bers on how to han­dle the mat­ter.

Shawn Kennedy, a re­tired Chicago po­lice sergeant and spokesman for the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Black Law En­force­ment Of­fi­cers, said the of­fi­cers acted un­der the con­sti­tu­tional pro­tec­tions of the First Amend­ment.

“This seems to be a point of fact that has es­caped Pres­i­dent Catan­zara,” Kennedy said Tues­day sur­rounded by about 20 peo­ple.

Kennedy said the FOP “ap­pears to have nei­ther the in­tent nor de­sire to prop­erly, ad­e­quately and pur­pose­fully sup­port the is­sues and con­cerns of the nearly 2,800 African Amer­i­can mem­bers of the Chicago Po­lice Depart­ment who are cur­rently pay­ing mem­bers of the union.”

Kennedy called Catan­zara’s pre­vi­ous state­ments on the mat­ter “im­proper, in­sen­si­tive as well as bor­der­ing on the in­ten­tional in­tim­i­da­tion of those he was elected to serve.”

Catan­zara told the Sun-Times any FOP mem­ber who takes a knee is sid­ing with pro­test­ers in what amounts to “a slap in the face” to other of­fi­cers and will face union dis­ci­pline that could in­clude ex­pul­sion. Catan­zara dis­missed the demon­stra­tion Tues­day. “Not a sin­gle one of them took the op­por­tu­nity to try to reach out and sit down and talk to me. It’s all a show. It’s all non­sense. It’s easy to point a fin­ger,” Catan­zara said.

A po­lice depart­ment spokes­woman said Means and An­tunez are on ac­tive duty. The of­fi­cers could not be reached for com­ment.

Melvin Har­grett, a re­tired Chicago po­lice bomb tech­ni­cian, read a state­ment on be­half of the Na­tional Coali­tion of Law En­force­ment Of­fi­cers for Jus­tice, Re­form and Ac­count­abil­ity.

The re­sponse from the po­lice union “re­flects the role we can ex­pect many po­lice unions to play na­tion­ally in op­po­si­tion to calls for long-over­due changes rel­a­tive to how Black com­mu­ni­ties are po­liced,” Har­grett said.

Re­becca Raines Cook, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion for the Ad­vance­ment of Col­ored Peo­ple, called for the process by which the po­lice union ne­go­ti­ates its con­tract to be more trans­par­ent and in­clu­sive of com­mu­nity in­put.

Shawn Kennedy, spokesman for the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Black Law En­force­ment Of­fi­cers, de­cries on Tues­day the “egre­gious ac­tions” of Fra­ter­nal Or­der of Po­lice Pres­i­dent John Catan­zara. ASH­LEE REZIN GAR­CIA/SUN-TIMES

John Catan­zara

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