- The singer John Legend co-wrote a Chicago Tribune op-ed published Thursday, denouncing the local police union as a “grave threat to this city’s safety.”
- Legend and Neill Franklin, a former officer and police reform advocate, urged the city and state’s leaders to “reject the politics” of the Fraternal Order of Police.
- They called out the union for backing a number of officers accused of abuse, including Jason Van Dyke, who was recently sentenced for fatally shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in 2014.
- The Chicago FOP told INSIDER the op-ed was “ludicrous and baseless.”
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The singer John Legend denounced Chicago’s powerful police union in a Chicago Tribune op-ed this week, writing that the Fraternal Order of Police “poses a grave threat” to safety and undermines the criminal-justice reforms the city has made in recent years.
The op-ed, written jointly with Neill Franklin, a former officer and executive director of the advocacy group Law Enforcement Action Partnership, called out the FOP for making “baseless and dangerous attacks on smart reformers” like Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx.
“Since taking office in 2016, Foxx increased transparency in the office, stopped prosecuting marijuana possession, reduced the use of money bail, diverted more cases out of jail and prison and back into the community, and developed a conviction integrity unit that has vacated dozens of cases,” Legend and Franklin wrote.
But Foxx has recently come under fire after her office dropped charges against “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett, who was accused of staging a hate crime against himself earlier this year.
The controversy sparked a protest on April 1, when FOP members converged in front of Foxx’s office to decry her handling of the Smollett case.
Legend and Franklin railed against the group for backing former cops like Jason Van Dyke, the officer who fatally shot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in 2014, and Jon Burge, the late police commander accused of overseeing the torture of dozens of black suspects decades ago.
“The union is a relic of the past, with a commitment to protecting all officers, even those who give it a bad name,” Legend and Franklin wrote. “The FOP makes the work of mostly good, honest and dedicated officers harder and communities less safe.”
Martin Prieb, a vice president of the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police, told INSIDER that Legend and Franklin’s op-ed was “ludicrous and baseless.”
“We do not make communities less safe,” he said. “We are the ones who protect public safety. To claim that we post a great threat to the city is also false and offensive.”
Legend and Franklin said Chicago, which has been plagued by gun violence and homicides in recent years, has made “great progress” and shot to prominence as a leader in the criminal-justice reform movement.
But Legend and Neill said the FOP overshadows the good work Chicago’s police officers do, and urged city and state leaders to cut ties with the union.
“We need more accountability and elected officials who are smart on crime, not overly punitive,” they wrote. “We’re calling on all leaders – the mayor, the state’s attorney, the police superintendent and the sheriff – to reject the politics of the FOP and relegate its destructive ideas to the dustbin of history where they belong.”
- Read more:
- Chicago plans to sue actor Jussie Smollett after he refuses to pay $US130,000 for investigation cost
- How ‘Empire’ star Jussie Smollett went from victim, to suspect, to cleared of all charges after reporting a hate crime
- The prosecutor who dropped charges against Jussie Smollett says he still believes the ‘Empire’ actor is guilty
- Chicago Police say the city is ‘owed an apology’ after prosecutors dropped charges against Jussie Smollett