Off-Duty or On-Duty, No One Should Be Shocked By How the Police Acted During the Coup at the Capitol

By Ameer Hasan Loggins

The news of off-duty police officers from around the country making the pernicious pilgrimage to Washington D.C. to participate in the armed and deadly takeover of the United States Capitol should come as a shock to no one. Nor should the grace that was granted to the angry clan of neo-Confederate Trump loyalists by some of the on-duty Capitol police during the attempted coup d’etat.

Amidst the madness, one of the Capitol police officers took a selfie with someone who was part of the mob that stormed the Capitol. Another policeman was seen wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat and was directing people around the besieged building.

Again, this news should come as a shock to no one.

The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), the largest and oldest police union in the U.S., endorsed Donald Trump for president in both 2016 and in 2020. But endorsing Trump is not the first time that they publicly put their white supremacist politics on display.

In 1966, the FOP invited Alabama segregationist Governor George Wallace to speak at its national convention. In that speech, Wallace received a standing ovation when he told the audience that if “the police of this country could run it for about two years, then it would be safe to walk in the parks.” Two years later, in1968, the FOP endorsed George Wallace in his presidential run. The FOP followed by endorsing Richard Nixon, and it regularly endorsed “law-and-order” GOP candidates such as Ronald Reagan, and George Bush. The FOP flirted with supporting Democratic Party “law and order” candidate Bill Clinton in 1992, as Clinton aggressively sought the Fraternal Order of Police’s endorsement. In 1996 Clinton became the first Democratic presidential candidate to pick up the endorsement of the FOP. Post-Clinton, the FOP realigned with the GOP. In 2000, the FOP endorsed then-Texas Governor George W. Bush for President. In 2008, they endorsed John McCain for President. Now they are attached to Donald Trump, a man that declared himself as being the “president of law and order” from the White House Rose Garden while peaceful protestors were being beatdown and tear-gassed by military police.

In the aftermath of the siege on the U.S. Capitol building, Chicago’s FOP Union President John Catanzara told Chicago radio station WBEZ, “There was no arson, there was no burning of anything, there was no looting, there was very little destruction of property,” and continued, “Evidence matters… Until that appears, shame on them for what they did, but it was out of frustration. There’s no fights. There’s no, obviously, violence in this crowd. They pushed past security and made their way to the Senate chamber. Did they destroy anything when they were there? No.” He continued, “If the worst crime here is trespassing, so be it. But to call these people treasonous is beyond ridiculous and ignorant.”

Catanzara is the same person that said the Capitol coup was less violent than the Black Lives Matter protest against police terrorism in Chicago.

Rep. Bobby Rush likened Chicago’s FOP lodge to the Ku Klux Klan, saying the two organizations “are like kissing, hugging and law-breaking cousins.”

There are calls for John Catanzara to be fired, but there needs to be a greater call — the abolishment of the FOP. The FOP has proven to be an un-reformable force that uses its power to endorse, protect, and serve U.S. Presidents hell-bent on punishing the people under promises and politics of “law and order.” Police unions anti-democratically collectively bargain to strip voters any power to shape crucial public-safety policies they must live with, and transfers that power instead to those with a vested interest in the outcome: the police themselves. As Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe states, police unions like the FOP, “[rig] the system against ordinary citizens — never more so than when those citizens are menaced, hurt, or killed with impunity by abusive or reckless police.”

Police unions stripping voters of power? Police unions rigging systems against ordinary citizens?

It makes perfect sense why the FOP supports Trump. It is only logical that some on-duty officers at the Capitol showed grace towards the clan attempting to overthrow the Capitol. It was predictable that off-duty officers would be amongst the massive mob of Pro-Trump loyalist creating chaos.

The roots of the law enforcement in the United States, from its early beginnings in Colonial America, were firmly planted and fertilized in the insidious soil of white supremacism — And Trump is a white supremacist.

Again, this news should come as a shock to no one.

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