Two black police officers reprimanded for taking a knee with activist

The city's mayor declined to condemn the officers' actions

Andrew Buncombe
New York
Thursday 28 September 2017 19:09 BST
Ms Clark has worked to reduce gun violence and against police discrimination
Ms Clark has worked to reduce gun violence and against police discrimination (Instagram)

Two African American police officers have been reprimanded after they “took a knee” and posed for a photograph with an activist seeking to draw attention to police brutality and support NFL players who have done the same.

The officers, who have not been identified, were photographed kneeling and with her fists raised, after being approached by Aleta Clark, a Chicago resident who has worked to reduce gun violence, protect children and help communities in some of the poorest parts of the city and beyond.

“That moment when you walk into the police station and ask the men of colour are they against police brutality and racism & they say yes... then you ask them if they support Colin Kaepernick…and they also say yes...then you ask them to kneel,” said the caption of Ms Clark’s photograph, which she posted on Instagram.

Players across the US - and in the UK - protested against Mr Trump's comments (Getty)

The issue of taking a knee gathered fresh attention after Donald Trump claimed those NFL players who have been refusing to stand for the national anthem to draw attention to police treatment of people of colour, should be fired.

Ms Clark, who posted the image under the name englewoodbarbie, told The Independent she had not known the officers when she entered the station in the city's 6th District yet felt entirely happy to ask them to participate.

“Why shouldn’t I be able to ask police officers to do so,” she said.

The city’s mayor, Rahm Emanuel, declined to criticise the officers but said he understood why the department was disciplining them.

“They were somewhat betwixt, between two different aspirations,” he told reporters.

Trump: NFL owners are scared of their players

Anthony Guglielmi, a spokesman for the Chicago Police Department, said officials were not identifying the officers. In a statement to the Chicago Tribune, he said: “We are aware of the photo and we will address it in the same way we have handled previous incidents in which officers have made political statements while in uniform, with a reprimand and a reminder of department policies.”

Ms Clark, who runs a charity called Hugs not Slugs that worked to work towards reducing gun violence in the city, said she felt the force was being hypocritical.

“I don’t think these officers should be punished at all,” she said. “The are here to serve the community and they are doing that by kneeling for justice against police brutality.”

The issue has blown up in recent days after Mr Trump used inflammatory language at a election rally in Alabama and players such as Mr Kaepernick and others should be fired.

He called on the NFL to take action against them and suggested fans might otherwise boycott the league.

Since then, teams across the country have responded to Mr Trump’s words in displays of unity against his comments and in defence of Mr Kaepernick’s right to protest in a non-violent manner.

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