What would you expect from cops who kidnapped, tortured, and sexually abused black citizens with impunity for a decade or more?
Published verbatim from The Chicago Tribune, January 8, 2021.
Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx calls on Chicago police union boss to resign for comments downplaying mob attack on US Capitol after he apologizes.
By JEREMY GORNER and ALICE YIN
CHICAGO TRIBUNE |
JAN 08, 2021 AT 5:05 PM
Hours after the head of Chicago’s largest police union apologized Friday for comments in which he downplayed this week’s violent storming of the U.S. Capitol by a mob of President Donald Trump supporters, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx called for his resignation.
In a statement on the union’s website to thousands of active and retired Chicago police officers, John Catanzara said he showed a lapse of good judgment in some of his comments about the chaotic scene in Washington that included the shooting death of a woman, the deaths of three other people and injuries to numerous police officers, including one who later died.
“For that I am sorry,” wrote Catanzara, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7. “I brought negative attention to our lodge, the FOP family and law enforcement in general.”
Catanzara didn’t specify which news outlet he was referencing in his apology, but he drew immediate outrage on social media Thursday for comments he made to WBEZ-FM 91.5 about the incident, such as, “there’s no, obviously, violence in this crowd.”
Despite Catanzara’s apology, Foxx released a statement Friday through an aide saying he should step down from his union post.
“Maya Angelou famously said, ‘When people show you who they are, believe them.’ For years, John Catanzara has been proudly unapologetic about his repugnant views. Make no mistake, he meant what he said yesterday. He just regrets being held accountable. Just like Donald Trump, his hero, he should submit his resignation, Catanzara should do what is best for his members and the law enforcement community and resign immediately.”
In his interview with WBEZ’s Chip Mitchell that aired Thursday morning, Catanzara downplayed the events that unfolded at the Capitol building as members of Congress were certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the November election.
“There was no arson. There was no burning of anything. There was no looting. There was very little destruction of property. It was a bunch of pissed-off people that feel an election was stolen, somehow, some way,” Catanzara said, according to Mitchell, who tweeted the comments a few hours after his radio station aired part of his interview with the FOP president.
The mob broke windows and vandalized parts of the building, sending legislators fleeing from their chambers and prompting a National Guard deployment to the area.
In the WBEZ interview, Catanzara, known as a staunch Trump supporter, said it was “beyond ridiculous and ignorant” for some people to call the unrest at the Capitol treasonous and said the Trump supporters’ actions were “very different than what happened all across the country all summer long in Democratic-ran cities.”
“They pushed past security and made their way to the Senate chamber. Did they destroy anything when they were there? No,” Catanzara said in his earlier interview with Mitchell, according to Mitchell’s tweets. “If the worst crime (at the Capitol) is trespassing, so be it.”
Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara speaks in support of Chicago police and President Donald Trump during a rally in Grant Park on July 25, 2020. (Abel Uribe / Chicago Tribune)
Catanzara’s remarks also brought a rebuke from National FOP President Patrick Yoes, who said they do not represent his organization. In a statement, Yoes noted the loss of the Capitol police officer and that the mob damaged the building “that is the heart of our democracy” and threatened elected officials and other officers.
In Chicago, Catanzara had the support of at least one member of his union’s board of trustees. David DiSanti responded to a complaint from a member of the public with an emailed message that he backs Catanzara.
“Unless you sent similar correspondence to democrat leaders regarding their full throated support of the anti-American BLM (Black Lives Matter) and Antifa that police have been dealing with professionally and courageously your criticism has no merit,” DiSanti wrote. “I fully support President Catanzara.”
Asked about it by the Tribune, DiSanti said in an email that his message stands and directed further inquiries to his lodge.
Reached by the Tribune later Thursday, after the WBEZ interview first aired and Mitchell’s tweets about it, Catanzara sought to clarify some of his remarks about the incident, saying that he did not condone the behavior of those who broke into the Capitol building and that “there’s no excuse for what violence did occur or officers being attacked and injured.”
“You go to where the centrally located government is at to protest what you think is an unfair, biased election. … The location almost somewhat makes sense,” Catanzara said. “But again, storming it was excessive. You know, if they wanted to obviously occupy it like they did in Wall Street, so be it. But they took it too far.”
He said in Friday’s apology on the FOP website, “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.
“I ask that you consider the totality of my comments,” he continued. “What is almost totally overlooked was the fact I said the President needs to accept responsibility for (the) events and that he should formally concede the race to put everything to bed once and for all.
In the midst of his controversial comments about the Capitol riot, Catanzara also is facing a disciplinary hearing before the Chicago Police Board to determine whether he should be fired as a Chicago police officer over allegations he made offensive comments on Facebook, including a post in which he’s accused of being disrespectful to Muslims.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, a noted Trump opponent who is also known as one of Catanzara’s sharpest critics, took to Twitter Thursday to condemn the FOP leader’s remarks to WBEZ.
“This wasn’t ‘frustration.’ It was a violent insurrection. The comments by John Catanzara, Chicago FOP President, either demonstrate clear delusion or reckless disrespect for the rule of law — or both,” the mayor said.
Foxx this week also released a video on YouTube regarding the incident at the Capitol and said it was propelled by an undercurrent of white supremacy, similar to what she experienced in April 2019 during the height of fallout from her office’s handling of the Jussie Smollett case in which the former “Empire” actor allegedly staged an attack on himself. Foxx focused on a rally that took place outside the Daley Center and was organized by the police union, which the Chicago Sun-Times reported included “groups with ties to white nationalists.”
“I couldn’t for the life of me understand why white nationalist groups would feel comfortable in the company of those who were protesting a decision by my office,” Foxx said in the video. “But I saw firsthand here in Cook County, in Chicago, what was possible when those who believe that their institutions are occupied by those who they don’t think belong rise up and stand together.”
To Foxx, Catanzara’s initial statement about the chaos in Washington this week belies what should be expected of law enforcement, she said.
“I saw the words of John Catanzara, the head of the FOP, today in defense of what happened in our nation’s Capitol,” Foxx said. “Who indicated that these were frustrated people who, in his eyes, had committed no crimes. The same John Catanzara who stood in front of my office two years ago.”
Catanzara noted that the rally Foxx mentioned occurred before he was the union’s president.
“I don’t know how you control who shows up,” Catanzara said Friday. “Again, if someone had ignorant racist signs that were in our group they would have been told to leave. Just because someone was in attendance, how are you supposed to know what everybody stands for, or who they are for?”
Excuses and assholes.
Everybody’s got one, and — like his Dear Leader and far too many of his colleagues — John Catanzara is one. He’s a miserable excuse for a cop, and he’s a giant asshole.
The worst of it is, his colleagues elected him as the president of the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police.
Which makes them all assholes.