Protests Against Fraternal Order of Police: ‘Racist’ Union Must Change, Say Protesters
Chicago, Illinois — On Monday, protesters gathered around to express their displeasure with the Fraternal Order of Police. Disgruntled citizens accused the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) of racism. Alongside blaming the order for showing racial discrimination, the aim of the protest was also to make demands for reform of criminal justice.
Reverend Kwame Pitts, the pastor of Augustana Lutheran Church, who was present at the protest, said to media that their aim was to point fingers at FOP’s hypocrisy. Furthermore, they want to shed light on the fact that this is a racist organization that needs to be closed for good.
Protesters showed up carrying signs with messages they wished to convey. They wanted people in charge to denounce white nationalists, claiming that no one was safe under FOP’s racist policies and practices. Additionally, other activists, such as the organizers of the protest (The People’s Lobby, SOUL, and Reclaim Chicago) demanded more responsibility from people in charge. The police union, in their view, gets away far too easily with actions they need to be held accountable for.
Anthony Clark was quoted saying that FOP is an institution that’s founded on white supremacy. His view is that the only thing police are protecting is the system. Clark was a teacher of history in Oak Park and River Forest High School. The school board decided to suspend him after he was involved with students in staging a walkout on the anniversary of Trayvon Martin’s death. A neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman murdered 17-year-old Martin back in 2012.
Remembering Previous Incidents
Protesters also recalled other incidents, chanting “16 shots and a cover-up.” This was a reference to the murder of Laquan McDonald. In 2014, CPD officer Jason Van Dyke shot and killed 17-year-old McDonald. At first, police internally reviewed the incident and decided not to press charges against Van Dyke.
However, after footage from a dashcam cropped up, showing that Van Dyke shot McDonald 16 times in under 30 seconds, Van Dyke went on trial. The court found Van Dyke guilty of second-degree murder and aggravated battery, for which he received a sentence of six years and nine months in jail. This was a public case which affected the Chicago community and called attention to how police treat minorities.
Around a dozen officers guarded the entrance to the FOP lodge. When they finished with speeches, most protesters dispersed and went back to Union Park. However, some remained and continued to block traffic. Subsequently, the police arrested them.
This protest came about a month after demonstrations regarding Cook County State’s Attorney dismissal. Attorney Kim Foxx received a dismissal of a 16-count indictment against Jussie Smollett. On April 1, the Fraternal Order of Police organized a protest of their own, with activists coming to Foxx’s office and demanding her resignation. Clergy, officials, and community activists, including the Reverend Jesse Jackson, organized a rally, supporting Foxx.