36 aldermen backing resolution calling for FOP president to resign

The resolution further demands that, if Catanzara refuses to step down, the board of directors of FOP Lodge 7 vote to request his resignation.

SHARE 36 aldermen backing resolution calling for FOP president to resign
Chicago Police Officer John Catanzara, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7, speaks to reporters outside the union’s headquarters in June. Catanzara’s initial comments on the Capitol riot sparked backlash.

Chicago Police Officer John Catanzara, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7, speaks to reporters outside the union’s headquarters in June. Catanzara’s initial comments on the Capitol riot sparked backlash.

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times file photo

Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara has already apologized — and been rebuked by the National FOP — for sympathizing with and defending the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol last week.

But that’s not good enough for nearly three-fourths of the Chicago City Council.

Thirty-six aldermen are demanding Catanzara’s resignation in a resolution championed by rookie Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th).

The resolution further demands that, if Catanzara refuses to step down, the board of directors of FOP Lodge 7 vote to request his resignation.

If neither of those two things happens, the resolution demands that the Chicago Police Department’s Bureau of Internal Affairs investigate Catanzara’s actions and “their discredit” to the city and CPD.

“We had an attack on our democracy. A domestic terrorist act. It was important for the City Council to voice where it stands on it so that people across the country know that this isn’t something that reflects our values,” Vasquez said Monday.

“The people of Chicago will be listening to the FOP and watching to see their actions. When we live in a city where see such a gulf between police and communities of color, being silent about this only widens that gulf. The Fraternal Order of Police can do the right thing and say to the people of Chicago, `We don’t stand for it.’ That can bridge, at least some of that gap.”

Why isn’t Catanzara’s apology and a rebuke from the National FOP good enough?

“If a police officer’s job is justice, then to have someone representing them who is defending lawlessness and injustice — it’s something the union needs to speak on. … If they don’t, then I think people should be concerned about the code of silence and the fact that people would stand by,” he said.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Monday she understands the “outrage” generated by Catanzara’s “tone-deaf” remarks about the “vigilantes and domestic terrorists” who “came with guns, explosives” and zip-ties with the intent to “take hostages and upend a constitutional exercise by the legislative branch.”

“People of good will with their eyes wide open saw that for what it was. Which is an incredible attack on our democracy. An undermining of who we are as a nation. No one should take that lightly,” the mayor said, calling the National FOP’s rebuke of Catanzara “unprecedented.”

“The fact that he waved that off as nothing says a lot about the character of him. ... He has said and done 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.”

Speaking during a news conference with aldermen and labor leaders Monday morning, the Rev. Marshall Hatch of New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church said the CPD “has, historically, been corrupt, racist and with entrenched partisanship. In fact, it is almost a 1940s department, certainly not the kind of department we need for the 21st century,” Hatch said.

Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th), chair of the City Council’s Latino Caucus, quipped that Catanzara should “join outgoing President Trump and become his caddy in the golf fields of Florida.”

Catanzara could not be reached for comment on the resolution, expected to be formally introduced at the Jan. 27 Council meeting.

What Lightfoot called his “non-apology” came in a statement posted to Facebook on Friday. In it, Catanzara said he showed “a lapse” in judgment.

“I brought negative attention to our Lodge, the FOP family and law enforcement in general. I was in no way condoning the violence in DC yesterday. My statements were poorly worded. I certainly would never justify any attacks on citizens, democracy or law enforcement. After seeing more video and the full aftermath, my comments would have been different.”

Catanzara’s about-face came after he and the union were the subjects of backlash prompted by comments Catanzara made to WBEZ-FM last week.

Of the pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol building, the union president had said, in part: “There’s no fights. There’s no, obviously, violence in this crowd. They pushed past security and made their way to the Senate chamber. Did they destroy anything when they were there? No.”

In fact, five people — including a police officer — have so far died as a result of events Wednesday in Washington, D.C.

Catanzara, a vocal supporter of Trump, also echoed on Wednesday the president’s criticisms of the protests and looting in cities across the country throughout 2020 that were spurred by several high-profile instances of police violence.

The storming of the Capitol, Catanzara said Wednesday, was “very different than what happened all across this country all summer long in Democratic-ran cities and nobody had a problem with that.”

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, a political nemesis of Catanzara, rejected his backtracking on Friday, arguing the controversial police leader has long been “proudly unapologetic about his repugnant views.”

“Make no mistake, [Catanzara] meant what he said yesterday. He just regrets being held accountable,’” Foxx said in a statement. “Just like Donald Trump, his hero, should submit his resignation, Catanzara should do what is best for his members and the law enforcement community and resign immediately.”

The National Fraternal Order of Police was among those who decried Catanzara’s initial comments. “The National FOP rejects this gross mischaracterization and sees the incident for what it was — a violent mob of looters and vandals, visiting fear and destruction on one of our nation’s most sacred spaces, who should be held accountable for their actions and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” the National FOP said in a statement.

In public appearances before he was elected to lead the union last year, Catanzara could often be seen wearing a Trump athletic jersey.

After Catanzara’s election, Trump offered his congratulations on Twitter.

Catanzara — a self-described “give no f#$%s, say it like it is man” — is the first person elected to lead the FOP while stripped of their police powers.

Last month, the Chicago Police Board announced Catanzara would face an evidentiary hearing, which could lead to his firing from the CPD, over inflammatory and obscene comments he made on Facebook.

Contributing: Sam Charles


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