An activist’s declaration at last Friday’s Chicago Teachers Union rally — “f— the police, and everybody f— with ’em” has drawn the ire of Chicago police and a sound Twitter scolding for union president Karen Lewis.
And now the Fraternal Order of Police is asking Lewis to condemn the insult tossed out at the end of the CTU-organized rally outside the Thompson Center that has upset FOP members and their families — many of which include Chicago Public School teachers. They took to Twitter and peppered a popular Chicago police blog with angry comments.
“I did mention that lack of a response is almost like condoning the remarks,” FOP president Dean Angelo said of a lengthy phone conversation Monday evening with Lewis. “I know it was her rally, a public school rally, a CTU rally, and although she wasn’t aware of this person closing the rally so to speak, it was something that was under her banner.
“So we’re hoping that she understands it’s important for the CTU to come out address those comments,” he told the Chicago Sun-Times. “We are waiting for Ms. Lewis to respond.”
Lewis did not return messages seeking comment Tuesday. Lewis repeated on Twitter what she had said at Friday’s rally after someone heckled her own speech with anti-police comments: “What did I say? Police are NOT our enemies.”
A union spokesman said that the CTU never expected such profanity from Page May, of Assata’s Daughters, a collective of black women perhaps best known for protesting Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez. The spokesman confirmed that May is not a CTU member nor a teacher in Chicago’s public schools.
May could not be reached either. She took the stage late Friday afternoon, right after Lewis revved up the crowd to march to Grant Park. May ended an impassioned call for justice with a profanity-laced tirade against CPD, the FOP and Chicago’s Independent Police Review Authority, saying “F— the police, and everybody f— with ’em.”
Why any speaker followed Lewis is not yet clear. A version of the speakers list from Thursday had the union president capping the rally before thousands of teachers filled Chicago’s Loop, taking over Wacker Drive and Michigan Avenue on their way to Grant Park.
Angelo said from his conversation with the union president that “Ms. Lewis thought or expected she would close her own rally.”
Instead, she was followed by May and another speaker, and then the Rev. Jesse Jackson.
The CTU staged a one-day strike to draw attention to Illinois’ paltry funding for education, in conjunction with allies from other unions, area universities and others feeling the crunch of a stalled state budget. In addition to picketing outside schools on April 1, the union invited a wide variety of other groups — Fight for $15 and Nabisco factory workers, for example, to plan events throughout the city, too, tagged “#ShutItDown.”