The Chicago Fraternal Order of Police, particularly under the leadership of its current president, John Catanzara, talked tough last summer when a group of cops kneeled with local George Floyd protestors in a show of empathy.
“If you kneel, you’ll be risking being brought up on charges and thrown out of the lodge,” Catanzara said then.
But we can’t help but notice Catanzara isn’t talking now about tossing another police officer, Karol Chwiesiuk, from the FOP ranks. Chwiesiuk has been charged with bogarting his way into U.S. Capitol during the violent Jan. 6 insurrection.
Instead, the FOP is moving to protect Chwiesiuk’s job and restore his ability to carry a firearm — a privilege he lost as a condition of his bail.
Cantazara and the FOP have no harsh words, no public chastisement, for one of their members caught participating in an attempted government overthrow that also targeted, injured and overwhelmed fellow police officers.
If there’s no room in the Chicago FOP for kneeling cops, there needs to be even less tolerance for this. And yet, there it is.
Union should acknowledge alleged wrongdoing
According to federal investigators, Chwiesiuk traveled by car from Chicago to Washington, D.C., and joined the Jan. 6 mob. He allegedly claimed to have “knocked out a commie last night” in a Jan. 6 text message and — amazingly — took photos of himself inside the Capitol during the breach, wearing a hooded sweatshirt bearing the Chicago Police logo.
Chwiesiuk was placed on desk duty by the police department following his arrest and was ordered to surrender his state Firearms Owner Identity Card.
A lawyer for Chwiesiuk earlier this week asked a federal judge to change the officer’s bail terms so that he can have a valid FOID card — a requirement to be a sworn police officer, even one on desk duty.
A union’s job is to protect its members — make sure they get full due process — so we don’t expect the FOP to toss Chwiesiuk under the squadrol for participating in the Capitol raid. But the union should offer some type of acknowledgment, even generally stated, that police officers shouldn’t take part in violent activities that seek to undermine the rule of law.
And this should be especially true for Catanzara and the Chicago FOP, which are publicly vocal when it comes to issues of civil disobedience, from Black Lives Matter protests to the Christopher Columbus statues coming down.
‘Disappointed’ in national FOP
The silence here is deafening — and typical.
During their testimony before Congress last week, four police officers who gave harrowing accounts of their attempts to protect the Capitol building on Jan. 6 also criticized the national FOP for being largely quiet about the events of that day.
“We are very disappointed that the national FOP and local D.C. union have not strongly condemned the January 6th insurrection and [haven’t] unquestionably issued its full support for all the officers involved,” U.S. Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn and USCP Sgt. Aquilino Gonell said in a statement.
“There should be nothing to debate on these points. You either stand with the officers or you stand with the terrorists,” the statement said.
It’s time for the FOP, locally and nationally, to adjust its stance.
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