John Catanzara, who was appointed to lead the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police last month, labelled officers who kneeled alongside protesters as “ridiculous”.
In comments made to Fox32 on Thursday, the police union boss argued that protesters were calling on authorities across the US to defund and abolish police departments following George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis police custody on 25 May.
“I don’t believe it’s the time or place to be doing that,” said Mr Catanzara. “If you kneel, you’ll be risking being brought up on charges and thrown out of the lodge.”
“Specifically this weekend,” he continued. “This was about defunding and abolishing the police officers. And you’re going to take a knee for that? It’s ridiculous.”
Those comments come as police across the US have been seen in the kneeling position, otherwise known as ‘taking the knee’, with crowds demonstrating against systemic racism and police violence.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot soon criticised the union head’s “unfortunate comments”, and said she was “not going to dignify them with any further response.”
According to Fox32, members dismissed from the union would lose contractual benefits and protections but would be able to continue working as a cop in Chicago.
Mr Catanzara was condemned in 2017 after he posed with a sign that supported President Donald Trump and gun rights, whilst in uniform, in a photo posted on Facebook.
He compared his actions to those officers who have knelt with demonstrators, and said only politics separated them.
“Well that’s a political stance. I want to see what happens on the department level,” said Mr Catanzara. “I’m going to guess nothing because the mayor supports this kind of stuff”.