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Band's Claim of Racist Remark by Cop Prompts CPD Investigation

The only black member of a blues band insists a Chicago cop stopped their show because there were too many black people in the audience. Chicago Police Internal Affairs is investigating.

Band's Claim of Racist Remark by Cop Prompts CPD Investigation
A band member's claim that a Chicago Police officer insisted they stop playing because they had attracted too many black patrons has spurred an investigation by the Chicago Police Department. 

Brandon T. Bailey, of the Reprieve Blues Band, wrote in a blog that their show at McNally's, 11136 S. Western Ave., was cut short when Officer Mike Cummings allegedly said, "there are too many black people in here."

CPD News Affairs Director Adam Collins stated in an e-mail that the department’s Internal Affairs Division is investigating the claim.

"The comments, if true, are intolerable in our police department," Collins said. "We have codes of conduct that apply to officers whether they are on duty or not, and if the story is proven accurate appropriate action will be taken."

The band was two sets into their show Feb. 23 when the incident occurred. Bailey wrote that it was then that Cummings, who he believes to be the owner of McNally’s, made the remark to a fellow band member. Bailey's friends and family had flocked to the bar for the show, and approximately 30 percent of the audience was black, he wrote.

"I didn't initially understand what would be the cause for this kind of response,"  Bailey, a graduate of St. Rita's, told NBC. "We were having a great time, our fans were having a great time, but our third set was short. Why?"

If Bailey's claims are deemed accurate, Cummings' statement would be declared in violation of the department's Code of Conduct, which bans "all acts, which although not unlawful in themselves, would degrade or bring disrespect upon the member or the department."

If true, Cummings' association with the bar would also violate the department's  Rules of Conduct, which restrict its employees from “engaging directly or indirectly in the ownership, maintenance or operation of a tavern or retail liquor establishment.”

McNally's does business as Ruth G., Inc., and while Cummings is listed as an agent for the company, the liquor license is in the name of its president, Erin Cullom, according to the State of Illinois Liquor Control Commission.

Cummings could not be reached for comment.

"The hatred came from one person," Bailey told Chicagoist. "The onus for that is on him."

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