Chicago Police

CPD Officer Pushes Back After Police Union Suspended Her Over George Floyd-Inspired Protest

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A Chicago police officer who was suspended from the Fraternal Order of Police after she posted a photo of herself kneeling in solidarity with “Black Lives Matter” protesters says she wants the suspension removed from her record, and says she does not regret her decision to post the photo in the wake of the killing of George Floyd last year.

Carmella Means, a 26-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department, says that she was taking a stand against racism when she posted the photo.

“I did feel empowered,” she said. “I did feel like I was doing the right thing.”

Shortly after Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis, Means kneeled in protest in front of FOP Lodge 7, which represents members of the Chicago police. She says she took the photo during her lunch break, and posted it to her Facebook page with the hashtag “Black Lives Matter.”

“I was kneeling against police brutality and injustice,” she said.

Means says that her actions were also motivated by comments made by FOP Chapter President John Catanzara, in which he said that any officer that kneeled during protests should be disciplined, or even expelled from the union.

“I became very angry when I heard him make that statement, so I decided to take my own stand,” she said.

Catanzara made the comments in a 2020 interview with WGN Radio.

“Any member of Lodge 7 who is going to take a knee and basically side with protesters while they’re in uniform will subject themselves to discipline in the lodge up to and including expulsion from Lodge 7,” he said.

As a result of the photo, Means received a six-month suspension from the union.

“It means I lost their representation as a union. If something came up work related, I could not reach out to them for assistance,” she said.

The complaint that led to her suspension said that by kneeling in the photo she “violated the preamble of the FOP constitution,” as well as the union’s bylaws.

“It was unfair for me to be suspended,” she said. “I have paid union dues for 26 years, and even during my suspension they continued taking my union dues.”

While the suspension has ended, she wants it reversed and taken off of her record.

“I made my statement when I kneeled in front of FOP, and I’m going to carry it through,” she said.

Her appeal of the suspension will likely be heard next year, she says.

The police union, and Catanzara, did not immediately respond to NBC 5’s request for comment, but we will add comment as soon as it is received.

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