Chicago cop stripped of police power after making obscene gesture at protesters

Supt. David Brown’s decision follows Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s statement that she wanted the officer fired.

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Chicago police officers stand in front of businesses on Lake Park Avenue near 52nd Street on the third day of protests in Chicago over the death of George Floyd.

A Chicago officer has had his police powers stripped after sticking his middle fingers at protesters on June 4.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times file

A Chicago Police officer seen last week flipping off protesters in Lincoln Park has been stripped of his police powers and moved to administrative duty, the department confirmed Tuesday.

“The officer used a vulgar, offensive gesture directed at a member of the public while on duty and in uniform,” Kellie Bartoli, a spokeswoman for the Chicago Police Department, said in a statement. “The member will be limited to administrative duties at the direction of the superintendent.”

No more information was available, Bartoli said.

The officer came under fire after a Block Club Chicago photographer shared a photo and video on Twitter of the officer extending his middle finger at peaceful protesters last week.

CPD Supt. David Brown’s decision to relieve the officer of his duties comes after Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s call to have the officer fired last week.

“I’ve seen the photograph of the officer, in uniform, giving people the finger. We’ll find that person. And, in my view, that person needs to immediately be stripped of their police powers and start the process for firing him,” Lightfoot said Friday. “We will not tolerate that kind of abusive, offensive conduct on the part of police officers. Period.”

Last week, John Catanzara, president of the Chicago Police Union, rejected the idea what the officer did was a fireable offense.

“Is it professional behavior? No. Is it childish? Maybe a little bit,” Catanzara said. “Again, it’s not fireable, she knows that.”

Catanzara then said he would, however, accept Lightfoot’s resignation for telling the “President of the United States F-you.’”

Lightfoot begged to differ on Tuesday, saying “there’s a big difference” between her decision to push back against the president’s comments on Minneapolis protesters and a Chicago cop giving someone the finger.

“First of all, I’m a public official, and I coded my words,” the mayor said. “This officer is sworn to serve and protect. He went against his training.”

Ultimately, the nine-member Chicago Police Board will decide how the officer is disciplined, but the city’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability must first complete an investigation. A spokesperson from Civilian Office of Police Accountability could not be reached for comment.

Contributing: Fran Spielman

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