Chicago Police will discipline an officer who blasted “Sweet Home Alabama” — an ode to Southern Pride — over a police cruiser loudspeaker during a weekend protest over police treatment of African-Americans, the department announced Thursday.
The West Side protest was winding down Saturday near Pulaski and Monroe in the Garfield Park neighborhood when a photographer in the march heard the song blasting over the police car loudspeaker, WMAQ reported.
“While he says he was playing the music as a fan of the University of Alabama, CPD fully understands sensitivities related to the song and regardless, we cannot condone any behavior that may be viewed as disruptive or disrespectful to any protester or resident,” a statement from Chicago Police said.
The statement said the department is “dedicated to ensuring residents’ right to free speech and peaceful assembly.”
The department did not specify how the officer would be disciplined.
The song by the seminal southern rock group Lynyrd Skynyrd was written in the 1970s as a response to Neil Young’s “Southern Man” — which served as a musical indictment of racism in the South.
When released, the album cover for the “Sweet Home Alabama” single prominently featured the Confederate flag.
The photographer, Gabriel Michael, told WMAQ that he couldn’t believe Chicago Police officers played the song over a loudspeaker at a rally that, in part, was drawing attention to racial injustice.
“My brain couldn’t process that they were playing this song during a protest for black lives matter,” said Michael, who took video footage of the incident.