The superintendent of the Chicago Police Department will not attend President Donald Trump’s speech during next week’s conference of police chiefs even though it’s being held in the city, citing the President’s race rhetoric and immigration policies.
Eddie Johnson’s decision apparently prompted the board of the city’s police union to issue a no-confidence vote in him.
“While today’s decision is from the Board and not the active (Fraternal Order of Police) membership, I understand and respect that the Lodge is upset about the decision to not stand with the president,” Johnson said in a statement released by the Chicago Police Department. “As police officers, our job is to be the voice for the voiceless and ambassadors to the communities that we serve. I can’t in good conscience stand by while racial insults and hatred are cast from the Oval Office, or Chicago is held hostage because of our views on New Americans.”
Johnson first announced that he was skipping Trump’s address to the International Association of Chiefs of Police Annual Convention in a brief statement earlier in the week, saying the “values of the people of Chicago are more important than anything that he would have to say.”
Trump has frequently stoked racial tensions while in office, and he stirred a new controversy earlier this week when he described House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry as a “lynching.” He’s also sharply criticized so-called “sanctuary cities” – a broad term applied to jurisdictions with policies designed to limit cooperation with or involvement in federal immigration enforcement actions – and Chicago is one of them.
He’s frequently criticized Chicago over the city’s handling of crime. He cited “problems like Chicago” at last year’s annual police chiefs meeting and recommended the city implement a “stop and frisk” policy.
Johnson, who has served as superintendent since 2016, has recently been embroiled in a controversy after he admitted to having had several drinks before he was found asleep in his car.
The admittance came on a phone call with Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. A spokesperson for the Chicago Police Department said Johnson had recently changed his medication and reported feeling exhausted. An internal investigation has been opened into the matter at Johnson’s request.
A Chicago police spokesperson told CNN, “While we have no indication of impropriety at this time, this question can only be answered by the internal affairs Investigation. That investigation [is] active and ongoing.”
CLARIFICATION: This story has been updated to clarify that the Chicago police spokesperson said the internal investigation into Johnson continues.
CNN’s Nicole Chavez, Bill Kirkos and Omar Jimenez contributed to this report.