It’s being called “Blue Wednesday” in Chicago as the city’s Fraternal Order of Police organized a unified public demonstration against Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who the FOP calls “anti-police.”
During the city’s regularly scheduled city council meeting Wednesday morning, ranking members of the police union read aloud a strongly worded statement against Emanuel in which the FOP alleges the mayor has “turned his back” on his police department by being more concerned with “pandering to police-hating media” and by allowing the American Civil Liberties Union to have a seat at the negotiating table.
A protest organized by police officers became tense at City Hall. One woman was seen apparently spitting at a demonstrator marching with police officers.
The Fraternal Order of Police Chicago Lodge 7, which says it represents an estimated 15,000 active and retired members, recently sent out a notice to all of its members to attend Wednesday’s city council meeting to demand that “Mayor Rahm Emanuel back police.”
The move comes in response to the Chicago Police Board’s recent decision to put Officer Robert Rialmo on a no-pay status for a 2015 fatal shooting that was deemed unjustified by the board—but was ruled justified by Chicago Police Department Superintendent Eddie Johnson.
Emanuel does not sit on the independent Chicago Police Board, which made the ruling on Rialmo’s job status. A spokesperson for the mayor responded to some of the FOP’s allegations.
“When you have people on either side of the police reform issue criticizing, it’s a sign we’re hitting it down the middle of the fairway as we continue to build trust between officers and residents, ensure oversight and accountability, and give officers the tools and training they need to be proactive in the crime fight,” the spokesperson said.
Tension between Emanuel and his police department has been growing in recent years —beginning in 2015, when a video was released showing Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke shooting a 17-year-old teen armed with a small knife 16 times. The shooting occurred in 2014 but the video was withheld by the prosecutor’s office until a journalist fought for its release.
The public was outraged over the video and eventually Emanuel abruptly fired his police chief, Garry McCarthy. McCarthy, who is now running against Emanuel for mayor, has said Emanuel “threw him under the bus.”
The city also entered into an exclusive agreement with the ACLU in which officers are required to fill out reports for every single stop and frisk they’re involved in— which police say is an intentional move to use stats against them.
Emanuel is in the midst of running for his third term as mayor of Chicago. The FOP’s public move against him could serve as a thorn in his side, just nine months prior to the election.
The city of Chicago is also in midst of finalizing a consent decree with the federal government that will give a federal court oversight over the Chicago Police Department.
The consent decree came down during the Obama administration amid allegations of racism and police brutality. A months-long DOJ patterns and practices investigation concluded CPD needs a major overhaul in training and sensitivity.
Chicago Police said the decree is a shroud for even more anti-police policies.