Chicago Mayoral Election 2023

Chicago Police Union Leader Warns of Resignations, ‘Blood in the Streets' if Brandon Johnson is Elected Mayor

Both Vallas, who was endorsed by the FOP, and Johnson condemned the comments

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The Chicago Municipal Runoff Election takes place April 4, and early voting is currently underway. You can find our Voters Guide here.

Paul Vallas and Brandon Johnson have criticized Chicago Fraternal Order of Police president John Catanzara’s recent remarks about the mayoral election that warned of mass resignations and “blood in the streets’ if Johnson is victorious.

In an interview with the New York Times, Catanzara painted a violent picture if Johnson triumphs over Vallas on April 4.

“If this guy gets in, we’re going to see an exodus like we’ve never seen before,” he said, before adding that there would be “blood in the streets” if Johnson wins.

Catanzara also predicted that 800-to-1,000 officers would leave the force if Johnson wins.

Vallas, who has been endorsed by the FOP’s Chicago chapter, criticized the comments.

“I condemn his comments. I think his comments are absolutely irresponsible. Period,” he said. “They’re absolutely irresponsible and they have no place in this campaign.”

As for Johnson, he says his campaign is focused on positivity, and dismissed the remarks as fear-mongering.

 “Our message has been centered around hope. Our hopes are turning into votes. So we’re inspiring people to come out to vote, and we’re not inspiring fear,” he said.

MORE: Vallas vs. Johnson: An Updated Endorsement Guide to the 2023 Chicago Mayoral Election

The two candidates may have agreed on criticizing Catanzara's comments, but both were in a sparring mood during a televised forum hosted by CBS and WVON Tuesday.

The forum, the final televised showdown between the two candidates, featured several heated exchanges, including from Vallas as he criticized Johnson for being eligible for a teacher pension despite only having four years experience with Chicago Public Schools.

"He'll actually retire with a teacher pension, despite the fact he was a teacher for only four years," Vallas said.

"We're going to retire you in a few days," Johnson retorted.

The candidates sparred on all manner of issues, with public safety still taking center stage as moderators pressed Johnson on comments made in 2020, in which he called defunding police "an actual, real political goal."

During the forum, Johnson said that the quotes were accurate, but argued that they were not contextualized properly, and pledged that he would not cut police funding as mayor.

He has also proposed promoting more than 200 Chicago police officers to the position of detective to help address increases in violent crime in the city.

Vallas was also pressed on his argument that retirees and those who have left the police force during Mayor Lori Lightfoot's administration would be incentivized to return if he were elected as mayor.

"There are in fact 300 officers right now who have indicated a willingness to come back. Those are people coming back from retirement. We know for a fact that there are well over 100 officers who have transferred to other departments (that would come back)," he said.

Catanzara's comments served as a backdrop for continued criticism of Vallas, who has faced heat from numerous candidates for accepting the FOP’s support. While he served as a consultant during contract talks between the union and the city in 2020, he argues he will not be beholden to the union’s interests if elected mayor.

He also criticized the FOP for inviting Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to speak to officers in February.

Catanzara is no stranger to controversy, as he previously faced disciplinary hearings over his social media posts while still a member of the police department.

During that hearing, he retired rather than facing the prospect of being fired. He also ignited controversy by urging police officers to defy a city COVID vaccine mandate in 2021, and had predicted that officers would leave the force because of it, with those predictions largely failing to come to pass.

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