Sept. 28–A white Chicago police officer was reprimanded by the department Wednesday for posting a photo on social media of himself in apparent protest of the NFL players who knelt during the national anthem during Sunday games.
The photo on the officer’s Facebook page shows him in uniform holding an American flag as he stands in front of a marked Chicago police SUV. A poster on display carries several messages: “I stand for the anthem,” “I love the American flag” and “I support my president and the 2nd Amendment.”
The discipline comes days after two uniformed black officers were reprimanded for posing in a photo shared on social media of them kneeling and raising their fists in a police station with an activist in support of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who refused to stand during the anthem last season as a protest of police treatment of minorities.
Chief police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said all three officers have been given reprimands for violating department rules that prohibit them from participating in any partisan political campaign or activity while on duty. It is among the lightest punishment an officer can face.
“The rules prohibiting officers from making political statements while in uniform will be applied consistently,” Guglielmi said.
NFL players at games around the country — as well as in London — knelt or locked arms to protest comments from President Donald Trump during a speech Friday night in Huntsville, Ala.
“Wouldn’t you love to see on of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you’d say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired,” Trump said to loud applause.
Trump has continued to tweet about the controversy since. “The issue of kneeling has nothing to do with race. It is about respect for our Country, Flag and National Anthem. NFL must respect this!” he tweeted Monday.
The white officer’s Facebook page showcased his own photo with the flag and the poster under another message that read “2 sides to a story.” The post received 203 “likes” and 143 “shares.”
One pro-law enforcement group called “Chicago Code BLUE” shared the photo Wednesday on its Facebook page with a message that read, “We commend you for your courage…Will the mayor? That’s the question.”
In discussing the photo of the two black officers on Tuesday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel sought to walk a line between supporting Americans’ right to protest and the need for the Police Department to fairly apply rules prohibiting officers from espousing political positions.
The mayor wants rank-and-file officers to make connections with regular Chicagoans to try to mend some of the distrust that has built up toward the department, especially among black and Latino residents. But he said while the black officers in the photo were trying to do that, they ran afoul of the department policy in the process.
“They were somewhat betwixt, between two different aspirations,” Emanuel said.
Chicago Tribune’s John Byrne contributed
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