FOP’s John Catanzara blasts Brandon Johnson for calling teen looting a ‘trend’: ‘That means, do whatever the hell you want apparently.’

“Nobody is renaming anybody little mini-Al Capones. But they certainly, in many cases, had the same, terrorizing effect that Al Capone had 100 years ago,” the Chicago police union head said.

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Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara (left); Mayor Brandon Johnson (right).

Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara (left); Mayor Brandon Johnson (right).

Pat Nabong, Ashlee Rezin / Sun-Times file

Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara unloaded on Mayor Brandon Johnson on Friday for referring to the ransacking of a South Loop convenience store as a teen “trend”—and not a “mob action” — and for telling reporters it was inappropriate “to refer to children as, like, baby Al Capones.”

In a YouTube video to the police rank-and-file that focused largely on an independent arbitrator’s two rulings favorable to the union, Catanzara condemned Johnson as the City Hall equivalent of a permissive parent who would rather make excuses for young people wreaking havoc than hold them accountable for their criminal behavior.

“The teen takeover on Roosevelt Road was not a teen takeover,” Catanzara said. “It was looting. It was mob action. It is in the ordinance, Mr. Mayor. Look it up. It’s also in the state statute. I would hope you’d be familiar with that.

“Nobody is renaming anybody little mini-Al Capones. But they certainly, in many cases, had the same, terrorizing effect that Al Capone had 100 years ago with these teen takeovers, where they think they can do whatever they want with no repercussions, no parental supervision and no accountability — specifically apparent by the mayor’s office in City Hall, who wants to excuse all of this bad behavior because Chicago has a past. So that means: Do whatever the hell you want apparently.”

Johnson is a former teacher and paid organizer for the Chicago Teachers Union.

On Friday, Catanzara accused the mayor of “taking the CTU’s lead and making excuses for bad behavior like they have done for many years now in the school system — not giving quality education, indoctrinating kids and making ‘em victims where they think they’re entitled to behave any way they want because of past wrongs — either perceived or in reality.”

Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara addresses union members in 2021.

Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara addresses union members in 2021.

YouTube

“It is a terrible way to govern a city,” the police union boss said. “You are slowly destroying it, bit by bit by bit.

“Until your rhetoric changes, this probably doesn’t get any better. It only gets worse.”

On Wednesday, the mayor applauded police for their restraint in only arresting 40 youths. Johnson also scolded reporters who questioned his use of the word “trend” and instead referred to Sunday night’s disturbance as a “mob action.”

“We’re not talking about mob actions,” Johnson said. “This is not to obfuscate what is actually taking place. But we have to be very careful when we use language to describe certain behavior. There’s history in this city. I mean — to refer to children as, like, baby Al Capones is not appropriate.”

Mayor Brandon Johnson answers question from the reporters at City Hall on Wednesday.

Mayor Brandon Johnson answers question from reporters at City Hall Wednesday.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times file

The mayor’s office declined to comment on Catanzara’s tirade.

Catanzara spent the last four years battling Mayor Lori Lightfoot over all things law enforcement.

Johnson has tried to forge a different, more collaborative path. It appeared to be working. He persuaded Catanzara to wait for the Illinois General Assembly to eliminate a two-tier pension system for new and old police officers with a promise to tackle the long-standing inequity in the fall.

Johnson then appointed Catanzara to a working group charged with finding long-term solutions to an unfunded pension liability for Chicago taxpayers that rose to $35.4 billion last year after stock-market losses suffered by the four city employee pension funds.

In a video message to union members last month, Catanzara thanked interim Chicago police Supt. Fred Waller and Chief of Patrol Brian McDermott for going “out of their way to have a conversation with this lodge about work schedules, not only for Juneteenth but NASCAR, July 4 and all of that.”

But the political détente apparently ended when Johnson rejected the union’s demand for the same 12 weeks of paid parental leave that the mayor granted to Chicago teachers and other CPS employees without demanding anything in return at the bargaining table.

Catanzara urged a Chicago City Council that includes several pro-police alderpersons to “ignore what the mayor says” and condemn the behavior of young people who, he said, are “destroying pockets of this city little by little.”

After the April 15 downtown rampage and crime wave by a mob of young people went viral on social media, Johnson was criticized for condemning the behavior but saying it was “not constructive to demonize youth who otherwise have been starved of opportunities in their communities.”

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