Bobby Rush likens Chicago police union to KKK: 'Racist body of criminal lawlessness'

Bobby Rush likens Chicago police union to KKK: 'Racist body of criminal lawlessness'
© Greg Nash

Rep. Bobby RushBobby Lee RushLawmakers of color urge Democratic leadership to protect underserved communities in coronavirus talks States scramble as low census response rates threaten political power Illinois lawmaker says Trump wants to instigate a race war MORE (D-Ill.) on Sunday compared Chicago's largest police union to the Ku Klux Klan, claiming that it is "the most rabid, racist body of criminal lawlessness" by police in the United States. 

“The number one cause that prevents police accountability, that promotes police corruption, that protects police lawlessness, is a culprit called the Fraternal Order of Police," Rush said in an interview with Politico, referring to the Fraternal Order of Police Chicago Lodge 7. 

“They’re the organized guardians of continuous police lawlessness, of police murder and police brutality. The Chicago Fraternal Order of Police is the most rabid, racist body of criminal lawlessness by police in the land. It stands shoulder to shoulder with the Ku Klux Klan then and the Ku Klux Klan now.”

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Rush, who co-founded the Illinois chapter of the Black Panthers, also said that Chicago's largest police union and the KKK  “are like kissing, hugging and law-breaking cousins.”

The comments from Rush arrived amid rising tensions between the police union and some of Chicago's elected officials.

Rush last week said that at least eight officers in the city were seen lounging in his damaged campaign office in the South Side of Chicago as neighboring businesses were looted following the police-involved death of George Floyd. 

Surveillance footage showed the officers making and eating popcorn, drinking coffee and napping on an office couch. During a press conference addressing the incident on Thursday, Rush accused the police of not caring about "what was happening to businesspeople, to this city."

Appearing alongside Rush at the press conference, Chicago Mayor Lori LightfootLori LightfootMayor calls Chicago looting 'a planned attack' Feehery: Weak mayors destroy America's great cities Lightfoot snaps at reporter after question of 'going too easy' on Chicago looters: 'Do not bait us' MORE and Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown condemned the actions of the officers involved. 

“That’s a personal embarrassment to me,” Lightfoot said. “I’m sorry that you and your staff even had to deal with this incredible indignity."

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Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7 President John Catanzara has strongly pushed back against the criticism. He contended to NBC 5 Chicago that the officers were in Rush's office because the congressman's staff had made a request. However, a Rush spokesman told Politico that is not true. 

Catanzara also dismissed Rush and Lighfoot's press conference as a "ridiculously melodramatic, over the top production, pre-planned."

"It was the mayor's attempt to pour a tanker of gasoline on top of a fire that was starting to smolder," he said.

The Fraternal Order of Police Chicago Lodge 7 did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Rush's most recent remarks. 

Floyd's May 25 death after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes while Floyd said that he could not breathe spurred protests nationwide. It has also led to urgent calls from activists and lawmakers for reforms to hold law enforcement agencies more accountable. House Democrats earlier this month unveiled legislation that would, among other things,  repeal qualified immunity for officers and ban them from using chokeholds. 

Lightfoot has also pledged to introduce "monumental reforms" to policing in the city.