FOP SAYS ‘DOZENS’ OF OF­FI­CERS UN­FAIRLY STRIPPED OF POW­ERS SINCE GE­ORGE FLOYD’S DEATH

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY FRAN SPIELMAN, CITY HALL RE­PORTER fspiel­man@sun­times.com | @fspiel­man

The Fra­ter­nal Or­der of Po­lice has filed a com­plaint with the Illi­nois La­bor Re­la­tions Board to protest the Chicago Po­lice Depart­ment’s de­ci­sion to strip “dozens” of of­fi­cers of their po­lice pow­ers dur­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions into com­plaints filed against them since the death of Ge­orge Floyd.

Of­fi­cers side­lined while in­ves­ti­ga­tions against them are pend­ing in­clude the of­fi­cer ac­cused of punch­ing ac­tivist Mir­a­cle Boyd in the face dur­ing a con­fronta­tion at the now-re­moved Christo­pher Colum­bus statue in Grant Park.

Also in that group: cops ac­cused of drag­ging a woman out of her car by her hair at the Brick­yard Mall, then kneel­ing on her neck, and an of­fi­cer pho­tographed while giv­ing some­one the fin­ger.

Mayor Lori Light­foot has called for fir­ing the of­fi­cer pho­tographed flip­ping off de­mon­stra­tors. She has sim­i­larly con­demned widely cir­cu­lated video of the Brick­yard in­ci­dent.

FOP Pres­i­dent John Catan­zara ar­gued none of those of­fi­cers should have been pun­ished be­fore in­ves­ti­ga­tions are com­plete.

“We filed an un­fair la­bor prac­tice com­plaint on the strip­ping of po­lice pow­ers — of all of­fi­cers since the be­gin­ning of May. It’s not just a hand­ful of peo­ple. There’s been dozens of of­fi­cers un­fairly stripped. ... There’s no rhyme or rea­son to it. It’s just strip as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble at the whim” of the mayor and the pow­ers that be, Catan­zara said.

The Brick­yard video has been roundly con­demned as an ex­am­ple of ex­ces­sive force. But Catan­zara said there were “valid rea­sons” for those of­fi­cers’ ac­tions.

“They ab­so­lutely were loot­ing. There is con­fir­ma­tion that the sub­ject who was seen break­ing the win­dow was in the car. The ham­mer was in the car that was used. They were stop­ping that ve­hi­cle for a rea­son . ... It al­most ran over of­fi­cers who at­tempted to ini­tially stop it and got cornered at the other end of the park­ing lot. And that’s where the video picks up,” he said.

“Past prac­tice was al­ways that you would be stripped if your ac­tions were go­ing to lead to crim­i­nal charges or fir­ing. Noth­ing that was done at the Brick­yard [rises to the level of] crim­i­nal charges. They’re trump­ing this stuff up. There’s no va­lid­ity to say that any­thing that was done there that day is even dis­ci­plin­able in our es­ti­ma­tion, let alone fire­able.”

The mayor’s of­fice on Tues­day re­sponded to Catan­zara, say­ing the po­lice depart­ment “takes all nec­es­sary ac­tions based on the in­di­vid­ual cir­cum­stances of each al­leged in­ci­dent,” and only after an ini­tial in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the Civil­ian Of­fice of Po­lice Ac­count­abil­ity or CPD’s Bu­reau of In­ter­nal Af­fairs.

“The city and Chicago Po­lice Depart­ment will con­tinue to work with the union on any in­stances where they be­lieve of­fi­cers should not have been re­lieved of their po­lice pow­ers.”

Ald. Gil­bert Vil­le­gas (36th), the mayor’s City Coun­cil floor leader, was among those con­demn­ing the be­hav­ior in the Brick­yard video.

The mall is in his ward.

Vil­le­gas changed his tune after hear­ing Catan­zara’s ver­sion of events.

“If they were, in­deed, loot­ing, ob­vi­ously the po­lice of­fi­cers had every right to pull ’em over and do what they had to do as it re­lates to mak­ing sure there is law and or­der,” Vil­le­gas said Tues­day.

“My is­sue was the of­fi­cer pulling the lady out of her car by her hair and then putting his knee on her back. Maybe that’s how they were trained. But the car wasn’t go­ing any­where. Ev­ery­body was right there. It would have just been, in my opin­ion, a lit­tle eas­ier to pull ’em out. … We have to do a better job as it re­lates to train­ing be­cause those types of vi­su­als can be taken out of con­text.”

The hair-drag­ging in­ci­dent oc­curred dur­ing a tu­mul­tuous week­end that saw demon­stra­tions de­volve into loot­ing and may­hem that started in down­town and River North and spread to Chicago neigh­bor­hoods.

The woman, iden­ti­fied as Mia Wright, has said she was in the front pas­sen­ger seat of her cousin’s car when po­lice, for no ap­par­ent rea­son, smashed the win­dows with ba­tons and or­dered ev­ery­one out.

ASH­LEE REZIN GAR­CIA/SUN-TIMES FILES

Flanked by fam­ily mem­bers, at­tor­neys and sup­port­ers, Mia Wright talks to reporters in June at the Brick­yard Mall. Wright of­fered de­tails of what she called a vi­o­lent en­counter with Chicago po­lice ear­lier that week.

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