A Chicago police officer has come under fire for loudly playing Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” in an unmarked patrol car while trailing behind demonstrators attending a “Black Lives Matter” protest Saturday. While some are criticizing the action, calling it disrespectful and even racist, others are saying that it was nothing more than an innocent fandom move aimed at an upcoming football game.
Photographer Gabriel Michael captured footage of the questionable moments, which he thinks aren’t really questionable at all.
“I couldn’t believe what I was hearing,” Michael said. “Because you have to know the history of that song and the meaning. It didn’t makes sense to me. It was [either] a horribly ironic joke that desensitized cops were playing, or it was intentionally disrespectful and intimidating.”
The 1974 hit song has been accused of supporting segregationists, but band members have long maintained that it isn’t.
Nonetheless, as the footage made waves through social media, some swore it was racist, while others just assumed it was a – perhaps not very well thought through – fan homage to Alabama, who would be playing opposite Missouri in the SEC Championship football game less than two hours from when the music was played.
Michael said he wasn’t sure if the song was being played over the PA system or not, but it was definitely loud.
The incident is “under investigation” according to Police Department spokesman Martin Maloney.