NORTH CENTER — Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th) lashed out at the local police union Saturday over its endorsement of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
"Sometimes when people don't feel supported, there is a knee-jerk tendency to run to the loudest and most ignorant voice," said Pawar. "The [Fraternal Order of Police] is doing just that with their endorsement of Donald Trump."
The National Fraternal Order of Police backed Trump last month, calling him a law-and-order candidate who will "make America safe again." The local Fraternal Order of Police lodge more recently and more quietly backed that endorsement by posting it on its website.
Pawar said Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the City Council already had shown their support for police, and Emanuel has called openly for community support as well.
"You know what support looks like?" Pawar said. "Take one look at what Chicagoans just did. We passed the largest property tax increase in city history to secure police pensions. In the 2017 budget, we are hiring over 1,000 new police officers. Why? We did this to support the people who support us.
"And us is made up immigrants, refugees, African-Americans, Latinos, women, the disabled, veterans, Democrats and Republicans," Pawar pointedly added.
"We are a diverse bunch. We are a Sanctuary City. So when I see the union run into the arms of a man who insults Gold Star families, a man who says African-Americans should vote for him because they have nothing to lose, a man who mocks people with disabilities, a man who advocates for a ban on Muslims entering the country, or a man who brags about sexually assaulting women, I can't even begin to understand how the union could align the values that come with 'protect and serve' with the campaign and rhetoric of Donald Trump," Pawar said.
Police union President Dean Angelo Sr. said "I am a bit curious as to why the National Lodge's endorsement would cause a threat of this nature against the women and men of [local] Lodge 7," Angelo responded. "The presidential endorsement always has been the responsibility of the National Lodge, not the local groups. This type of 'my way or the highway' stance appears to be commonplace within the current political environment of our country."
Angelo added, "The right to vote and choose any candidate of your choice is the most basic freedom available to all citizens of this great country. One would think the alderman would be a bit more sensitive to the freedoms of choice and that he would be more concerned about protecting individual rights as opposed to making threatening statements that will adversely impact the lives of each and every Chicago Police officer."
Pawar is of Indian heritage and became the city's first Asian-American alderman when he was elected in 2011.
He said the union's endorsement of Trump could have consequences in the City Council, starting with 2017 budget hearings next week that will involve the Police Department.
"I think there will be a lot of questions during the budget hearings about culture and police-community relations in the wake of this endorsement," Pawar said.
He also said the endorsement would attract scrutiny of the new police contract, expected to be reached in the coming year.
Pawar already has said he'll expect that contract to endorse the police reforms adopted by the City Council, and added he would vote against it "if there is any daylight" between those reforms and the regulations approved in the next collective bargaining agreement.
"Given the comments were made by an alderman who will be responsible to ratify any contract negotiated," Angelo said, the local union "certainly will take note of this and similar types of statements made by any other elected official to ensure that our upcoming negotiation process is fair and conducted within the longstanding guidelines and protections guaranteed by the State Labor Relations Act."
Former Norwood Park resident David Lynch told DNAinfo Saturday that he got a tepid response from the president of the national police union when he pressed the group over its endorsement.
According to Lynch, Fraternal Order of Police national President Chuck Canterbury responded in an email that "our endorsement was made by a vote of the membership, and as president I have no authority to rescind a membership vote."
"Suffice to say I not only disagree with the current position of the FOP, but also how the FOP currently is handling this situation," Lynch said. "It's alarming that Mr. Canterbury is unwilling/unable to call for a new vote in light of recent events."
For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here.