South Side priest Michael Pfleger on Tuesday threw his support behind the two uniformed Chicago Police officers shown in a photograph taking a knee in what’s become a nationwide demonstration against police brutality.
“I just wanted to stand in support of you and your willingness to stand with those who feel abandoned and forgotten. I understand the CPD’s rules about activities in uniform, but you [probably] did more for community policing and helping to rebuild the bridge between community and law enforcement than 100 CAPS meetings,” Pfleger wrote in a statement. ” … you are not apart from the community, you are a part of the community.”
The two African-American officers, who now face a reprimand for posing in the Instagram photo, are seen kneeling beside a woman whose head is bowed.
The pose became controversial last fall, when then-NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick chose to kneel during the national anthem before games to protest police brutality. Other players have protested in a similar way in recent weeks, prompting furious tweets from President Donald Trump over the weekend.
Pfleger told the Chicago Sun-Times Tuesday that the officers shouldn’t receive a written reprimand.
“They should be applauded when they walk to in to work,” he said.
Pfleger said he’s sent letters of congratulations to both officers, one of whom he said he’s met previously.
Pfleger said he felt the need to issue a statement Tuesday because he was concerned the officers would, undeservedly, get some negative reactions for their actions.
“This is something [they] did not have to do. It’s like when a cop stops on the block, gets out his car and goes and sits on a porch and talks to [the residents],” Pfleger said. “It’s when you do things you don’t have to do, when people say, ‘Wow. That really made a difference.'”