John Catanzara

35 Chicago Aldermen Back Resolution Calling for FOP President to Resign Over Comments on Capitol Riot

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After the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police president made comments appearing to dismiss criticism of the violent riot at the U.S. Capitol last week, 35 members of Chicago City Council backed a resolution calling for his resignation.

Ald. Andre Vasquez posted a copy of the resolution on social media, saying it would be introduced at the City Council meeting on Jan. 27.

After a mob of supporters of President Donald Trump sieged the Capitol Wednesday, halting the electoral vote count with members of Congress sheltering in place, leaving five people dead amid chaos and violence, Chicago FOP President John Catanzara said an interview with WBEZ on Wednesday that critiques of the attack as treasonous were "beyond ridiculous and ignorant."

“There was no arson. There was no burning of anything. There was no looting. There was very little destruction of property,” he said. “It was a bunch of pissed-off people that feel an election was stolen somehow, some way.”

Catanzara went on to compare the storming of the Capitol to the unrest that followed the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, saying that it was “very different than what happened all across this country all summer long in Democratic-run cities.”

“If the worst crime (at the Capitol) is trespassing, so be it. But to call these people treasonous is beyond ridiculous and ignorant," he said.

Facing criticism for his comments, Catanzara later issued an apology, writing in a letter to members of the union that he "showed a lapse in judgement" during the interview and "for that I am sorry."

"I brought negative attention to our Lodge, the FOP family and law enforcement in general," Catanzara wrote. "I was in no way condoning the violence in DC [Wednesday]. My statements were poorly worded. I certainly would never justify any attacks on law enforcement. After seeing more video and the full aftermath, my comments would have been different."

"I ask that you consider the totality of my comments [Thursday]," he said. "What is almost totally overlooked was the fact I said the President needs to accept responsibility for yesterday's events and that he should formally concede the race to put everything to bed once and for all."

A majority of aldermen as well as Chicago City Clerk Anna Valencia signed onto the resolution calling for Catanzara's resignation both from his position as president and from Lodge 7 entirely, citing the FOP's constitution and by-laws barring membership to "any person who is a member of, or subscribes to, or supports the principles of any organization having as its purpose the overthrow of the government of the United States by force or violence."

Should he choose not to resign, the resolution calls for the Chicago FOP's board of directors to request his resignation, and if that doesn't happen, the resolution further states that the City Council calls upon the Chicago Police Department's Bureau of Internal Affairs to investigate Catanzara's actions.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot again blasted the union leader on Monday, saying at an unrelated news conference that Catanzara has a "long history" of comments and actions that show he "doesn't believe in the rule of law."

"This wasn't people merely exercising their First Amendment rights. These are domestic terrorists who came to take hostages and upend a constitutional exercise by the legislative branch," Lightfoot said at an unrelated news conference.

"So the fact that he waved that off as nothing says a lot about the character of him. But that's not the only thing that he has done. He has a long history of saying and doing things that are anti-democratic, small-D democratic, this isn't about partisanship," she continued. "This is about: Do you as a sworn member of law enforcement, where you swore an oath to uphold the U.S. and the Illinois constitution, do you actually believe in your oath?"

"He has said and done too many things, too many things over too long a period of time, which clearly underscore the fact that he doesn't believe in the rule of law, that he doesn't respect the U.S. Constitution, that he doesn't respect the Illinois Constitution," she added.

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