chicago protests

Chicago Officer Who Flipped Off Protesters Relieved of Police Powers

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Warning: Graphic photo embedded below.

A Chicago police officer who was caught on camera flipping off protesters has been relieved of his police powers, authorities said Tuesday.

Supt. David Brown relieved the officer of his police powers for "conduct unbecoming," CPD said in a statement.

"The officer used a vulgar, offensive gesture directed at a member of the public while on duty and in uniform," the statement continued, adding that the officer would be "limited to administrative duties at the direction of the Superintendent."

The incident in question was captured by Block Club Chicago during a protest in Lincoln Park on Thursday. Block Club reported that a protester flipped a middle finger at a bus carrying several officers - one of whom flipped both his middle fingers at the protesters in return.

The Chicago Police Department tweeted that same day that it had opened an investigation into the incident.

"CPD strives to treat all individuals our officers encounter with dignity & respect. We do not tolerate misconduct of any kind, & have opened an investigation into this incident," the tweet reads.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Friday that she believed the officer in question should be fired.

"It won't be tolerated," Lightfoot said at a news conference when asked about the incident, as well as reports of officers concealing their badge numbers while on the job at the ongoing demonstrations across the city. "We are actively at work identifying the officers who are responsible for that."

"This is going to be the superintendent's call ultimately, but in my view, they forfeited their right to be Chicago police officers," she said.

"I've seen a photograph of the officer in uniform, giving people the finger," Lightfoot continued. "We'll find that person. And in my view, that person needs to be immediately stripped of their police powers and they should start the process for firing him. We will not tolerate that kind of abusive, offensive conduct on the part of police officers, period."

When pressed on the topic, Lightfoot said she didn't want to paint officers with "such a broad brush."

"I think what we need to be clear about is context. The Chicago Police Department has 13,400 sworn officers. Unfortunately we've seen some, and I think a few who have dishonored their badge, and they will be dealt with accordingly," she said. "But the vast majority of officers that are out there are doing their job the right way. They're engaged in constitutional policing, they've leaned into their training."

'So I don't want to paint with such a broad brush," Lightfoot continued, likening the situation to some in the demonstrations who have destroyed property or resorted to violence. "Just as we've seen, unfortunately, some people in the crowds of protesters act in a way that is violent and criminal. We can't say that the vast majority of protesters are somehow untoward. They're not."

"The vast majority of protesters have been out there in the street with righteous indignation, not only at the murder of George Floyd, but injustices here in our city, and they're rightfully there and we gotta protect it," she added. "But let's not paint with such a broad brush when we see individuals who are acting in a way that's not appropriate."

Roughly 5,000 people joined the Thursday protest that began in Lincoln Park, one of several rallies or marches held across Chicago in recent weeks. Demonstrations against racism and police brutality have continued to take place around the world following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

The officers flipping off protesters and covering badges were among hundreds of investigations the Chicago police watchdog agency said it has opened into complaints about afficer conduct in the previous week, including allegations of excessive force, denial of counsel, improper search and seizure and others.

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