The Chicago Police Department is investigating an incident in which an officer used a homophobic slur against an anti-racism protester.
In a video posted to Instagram, the officer can be heard calling a protester a “fucking faggot.” The incident happened during a May 30 demonstration, one of many that have occurred in the response to the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who died as a police officer pressed his knee to Floyd’s neck in Minneapolis (the officer has been charged with second-degree murder).
The Chicago police officer yelled the slur after a traffic cone and barricade were thrown in his direction as he had his back to protesters, but the person who posted the video wrote that the officer also “attacked/chased a protester with that stop sign he is dragging (before the cone flew)” and that “other cops were watching him and doing NOTHING.”
Chicago’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability issued a statement Friday calling Police Superintendent David Brown to investigate the incident and to identify and suspend the officer in the video, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. The police department followed with a statement Saturday, saying, “Any derogatory conduct is inexcusable and has no place in the department.” The department has opened an investigation and “will take appropriate disciplinary action immediately as we work to identify the officer involved,” the statement said.
Equality Illinois, the statewide LGBTQ+ rights group, also put out a statement. “We believe in keeping the focus on what the protests are primarily about: our society cannot tolerate police brutality against African-Americans, including queer and trans African Americans,” CEO Brian C. Johnson said. “But we want to add unequivocally, there is no place for homophobia among those who are charged with protecting our city. This officer must be removed from duty.”
Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who is a lesbian, has denounced the use of homophobic language as well. She has called out other instances of police misconduct during the protests, saying officers who used obscene gestures against protesters and hid their badges should be fired, while recognizing the decision would ultimately be up to Brown, the Sun-Times notes.
Additionally, two officers have been accused of pulling a woman from her car at a Chicago shopping mall and putting a knee on her neck, the Chicago Tribune reports. They have stripped of their police powers while the incident is investigated.