Chicago police investigate video of cop car playing 'Alabama' song

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 08, 2014 7:01 PM

By Mary Wisniewski

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Chicago police said on Monday they are investigating an incident caught on video during a weekend protest that appears to show a Chicago police car blasting the song "Sweet Home Alabama."

The 1974 song, by the Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd, has been taken by some as supporting former Alabama Governor George Wallace, a segregationist, but members of the band have said the lyrics were misunderstood.

The video was shot at the "Black Lives Matter" protest on the west side of the nation's third largest city on Saturday by photographer Gabriel Michael, according to the news website DNAinfo.com. Michael could not be reached immediately for comment.

The video shows an unmarked police car seems to be playing the song while driving along with several other Chicago police vehicles.

Protests have been held in several cities since a grand jury's decision last week not to indict a white police officer whose chokehold contributed to Eric Garner's death in New York City in July.

The killings by white police officers of Garner and of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, in Ferguson, Missouri, have highlighted the strained relations between police and the black community.

Chicago police spokesman Martin Maloney confirmed that police are investigating the matter. Police are committed to "community policing and fostering stronger relationships" with the communities they serve, he said.

"With respect to the peaceful protests, as you have seen over the past week CPD is dedicated to protecting residents' right to free speech and peaceful assemblies," Maloney said in an email.

Stop Mass Incarceration Network Chicago, the group that organized the Saturday protest in question, said in a statement that the video is "grotesque testimony to the genocidal logic of the police across this country who are acting as the modern-day lynch mob under the authority of the state."

(Reporting by Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Sandra Maler)