After Fraternal Board of Police President John Catanzara announced his retirement from the Chicago Police Department, Mayor Lori Lightfoot blasted the decision as an effort on his part to “run away from accountability,” continuing a war of words with the union leader that has stretched on virtually since the moment he took office.
In a scathing statement, Lightfoot criticized Catanzara’s resignation from the department, which he tendered at a Tuesday meeting of the police board.
“Not a surprise that a man of hate – as John Catanzara has demonstrated over and over that he is – would run away from accountability,” she said. “The evidence of his guilt was overwhelming as set forth in the hearing, and he clearly sought to avoid the eventual reckoning by resigning, under investigation, and then divesting the Police Board of jurisdiction.”
The union president’s resignation from the department means that the disciplinary hearing against him will end, and the board will no longer be able to take action against him on the allegations that he was facing.
Catanzara announced his intention to resign following a Monday meeting of the Chicago Police Board. The meeting was convened to evaluate charges of misconduct against Catanzara, which had led to his suspension from the police department.
The violations were largely related to actions and online statements made by Catanzara, including his comparison of the city’s vaccine mandate to Nazi Germany, posts in which he called Muslims “savages (who) deserve a bullet,” and posts in which he appeared in his police uniform and expressed messages of support for former President Donald Trump.
According to documents posted online, Catanzara wrote “Let’s go Brandon” in the remarks section of a personnel action request confirming his retirement. The “Brandon” phrase is often used in right-wing circles as a stand-in for a profane message aimed at President Joe Biden.
Catanzara called the disciplinary board meeting a “circus,” and expressed his belief that he would not get a fair hearing before the board. He also announced plans to potentially run for mayor in 2023, and said his resignation would deprive Lightfoot of the chance to say that she had fired him from the department.
“I will have my vindication when I tell her to get the hell out of my office and give me the keys in 2023,” he told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Catanzara in the meantime says he plans to continue in his position as union president.
Lightfoot, who has been a vocal critic of Catanzara’s, said that the city of Chicago must “reject hate,” and that the messages sent by the union boss flew in the face of that goal.
“We cannot move beyond the very difficult circumstances that we have all endured these last 20 months unless we reject hate in all its forms, and stand united around our common values as a city that is always stronger when we work together as neighbors,” she said.