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Chicago police union president apologizes for his defense of pro-Trump mob

“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,” FOP President John Catanzara wrote Friday on Facebook.

Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara speaks during a rally for President Donald Trump in Mount Greenwood last November.
Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara at a Trump rally at Firewater Saloon in Mount Greenwood in November.
Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times file

The president of the union that represents Chicago police officers apologized Friday for comments he made earlier in the week in which he sympathized with and defended the actions of the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol.

In a statement posted to Facebook Friday, John Catanzara, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7, said:

“As your President, I showed a lapse in judgement [sic] yesterday during an interview. For that I am sorry. 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 during an interview with WBEZ-FM on Wednesday.

In discussing the pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol building, the union president said: “There was no arson, there was no burning of anything, there was no looting, there was very little destruction of property. … 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 that 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.

On Twitter, Mayor Lori Lightfoot also had blasted Catanzara’s initial comments, declaring that what happened at the Capitol was “an insurrection.”

“The comments by John Catanzara, Chicago FOP President, either demonstrate clear delusion or reckless disrespect for the rule of law — or both,” Lightfoot said.

Catanzara has been a vocal supporter of Trump. 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.