December 12, 2014 / 12:01 AM / 3 years ago

Chicago cop to be disciplined for playing 'Alabama' song at protest

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Chicago police said on Thursday that the officer who blasted the song "Sweet Home Alabama" out of his squad car last weekend during a racial equality march will be disciplined.

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.

A Chicago police department statement did not name the officer - who said he was playing the music as a fan of the University of Alabama - or say what the discipline would be.

The statement said the police department understands sensitivities related to the song and "cannot condone any behavior that may be viewed as disruptive or disrespectful to any protestor or resident."

The video, which went viral this week, shows an unmarked police car playing the song while driving along with several other Chicago police vehicles.

Stop Mass Incarceration Network Chicago, the group that organized the "Black Lives Matter" protest Saturday, 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."

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.

Additional reporting by Mark Guarino in Chicago; Editing by Eric Walsh

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