'A Grave Threat to Public Safety': John Legend Calls Out Chicago Police Union in Op-Ed

Photo: Greg Doherty (Getty Images)

As the city of Chicago lurches forward with its lawsuit against actor Jussie Smollett, John Legend penned a blistering op-ed last week, taking aim at Chicago’s powerful police union.

Writing for the Chicago Tribune, the singer accused the Fraternal Order of Police of posing “a grave threat” to Chicago’s safety by obstructing efforts to instill much-needed police reform in the nation’s third largest city. The op-ed was co-written by Neill Franklin, a former cop and executive director of the advocacy group Law Enforcement Action Partnership.

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Legend and Franklin began by lauding recent efforts by prosecutor Kim Foxx, the state’s attorney for Cook County, Ill., to reform Chicago’s criminal justice system, namely by ceasing marijuana prosecutions and reducing the use of cash bail. Chicago Police Chief Eddie Johnson also receives praise for moving toward more community policing.

“But there is one influential group in Chicago that poses a grave threat to this city’s safety: Chicago’s police union, the Fraternal Order of Police,” the pair wrote. “The union is a relic of the past, with a commitment to protecting all officers, even those who give it a bad name. After Van Dyke killed McDonald, the FOP not only vociferously defended Van Dyke, but the union also hired him.”

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“If we do not call them out, we embolden their voices, make them credible and allow them to drown out the work of good police officers and public officials while halting necessary change,” Legend and Franklin added.

In the wake of Foxx’s office dropping charges against Smollett, the FOP have set their sights on undermining and removing the city’s top prosecutor. Alongside a group of suburban police chiefs, the union gave Foxx a vote of no-confidence earlier this month. They’ve called repeatedly for her resignation.

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Others have weighed in on the public face-off between Foxx and the FOP, including Illinois Democratic Rep. Bobby Rush, who called the union “the sworn enemy of black people.”

“The FOP has always taken the position that black people can be shot down in the street by members of the Chicago Police Department, and suffer no consequences,” Rush said in a press conference on April 6.

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“Let’s be clear: Kim Foxx, her battle, is with the FOP and all of their cohorts,” he continued.

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About the author

Anne Branigin

Staff writer, The Root. Sometimes I blog slow, sometimes I blog quick. Do you have this in coconut?