A Chicago Police officer faces disciplinary action after posting a photo on social media of himself holding an American flag and standing next to a sign expressing opposition to protests during the national anthem – the second separate department policy violation of its kind in less than a week.
Officer John Catanzara posted the picture to his personal Facebook profile Tuesday and it was subsequently shared on the "Chicago Code BLUE" page that advocates for support of law enforcement officers. [[448371843, c]]
In the photo, a uniformed Catanzara is shown standing in front of a Chicago Police SUV, holding an American flag. At his feet sits a sign reading, "I stand for the Anthem I love the American flag I support my president and the 2nd Amendment."
The text of the sign is all black capital letters, except for the word "president" in red, and Catanzara captioned to photo, "2 sides to a story."
The Chicago Police Department’s code of conduct does not allow officers to participate "in any partisan political campaign or activity."
"As we have said before, the rules prohibiting officers from making political statements while in uniform will be applied consistently. This will be no different," the department said in a statement Wednesday.
Catanzara’s photo was posted just days after an image posted on an activist’s Instagram account, depicting two other Chicago police officers kneeling with raised fists, drew a similar response.
"We are aware of the photo, and we will address it in the same way we have handled previous incidents in which officers have made political statements while in uniform, with a reprimand and a reminder of department policies," the department said Monday.
Following Catanzara’s post, CPD said officers citywide will be reminded of the policy on expressing political views.
"The Department will remind all officers about the department's prohibiting political statements while on duty through a roll call training," Wednesday’s statement ended.
The photo posted to Catanzara’s personal page was shared more than 140 times before he made his profile private Wednesday afternoon.
On the "Chicago Code BLUE" page, the picture was captioned, "Hey it's only a reprimand right? God Bless this CPD officer for having the courage to also stand up for what he believes in! Mayor Rahm Emanuel praised other CPD officers for taking a knee. Will he also praise this officer? #StandForOurAnthem"
That post garnered more than 1,800 shares and at least 250 comments.
Other posts appearing on Catanzara’s page feature inflammatory language about Muslims, plus criticism of protesters, state and local government, as well as former President Barack Obama.
Posts of that nature appear to violate the department's policy on personal social media use, which prohibits members from sharing "communications that discredit or reflect poorly on the Department, its missions or goals," as well as "content that is disparaging to a person or group based on race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other protected class."
A spokesman for CPD did not immediately respond to request for comment on Catanzara's other posts.
Catanzara, as well as the Fraternal Order of Police, did not respond to requests for a statement either. In response to the first photo of the officers kneeling, a spokesman for the FOP said Monday it was "not appropriate to comment at this time."
The photos were posted amid the controversy stemming from comments President Donald Trump made Friday, slamming NFL players who participate in protests during the national anthem and calling on team owners to fire them.
"Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you'd say, 'Get that son of a b---- off the field right now. Out! He's fired,'" Trump said at a rally in Alabama.
His remarks sparked a firestorm of criticism from several angles, with professional athletes across multiple leagues, NFL owners and even league Commissioner Roger Goodell joining in a chorus to call Trump's remarks "divisive" and "disrespectful."
NFL games on Sunday and Monday saw hundreds of players and some team owners kneel, lock arms or even remain off the field during the national anthem.
Protests of this nature began when then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick sat, then kneeled, for the playing of the anthem beginning in Aug. 2016 to call attention to the oppression of minorities across the United States.
Kaepernick's actions sparked a national conversation that several other NFL players have joined, protesting on multiple occasions and continuing even after Kaepernick became a free agent at the end of the season.