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To: Chicago City Council members, Chicago Police Board members, Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown, and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot
The head of Chicago’s FOP is defending Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol. He has to go, NOW
John Catanzara, the leader of Chicago’s police union, is defending the violent attack on the US Capitol by Trump supporters and white supremacists, dismissing it as an “inconvenience,” saying “they’re entitled to voice their frustration,” lying about there being no violence or destruction of property, and most importantly, actively betraying his oath, as a sworn police officer, to defend the US Constitution. Catanzara must go. We call on you to use your power to publicly condemn him and force his immediate firing from the Chicago Police Department, and his removal as leader of the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police.
Why is this important?
The violent attack on the US Capitol by Trump supporters—incited by Trump and his allies—was an attempt to violently overturn the results of the election. It left at least five people dead and threatened the lives of members of Congress, top government officials, Capitol police officers, and everyone who works at the Capitol. Rioters armed with guns, mace, handcuffs, and tactical gear entered the Capitol, and almost reached areas where members of Congress and others were hiding.
Catanzara is defending the rioters, justifying and normalizing their attack on the Capitol, and downplaying the threat they posed. It’s dangerous, and needs to be stopped. When law enforcement signals to right wing militias and white supremacists that they’re on the same side, it encourages more serious acts of violence and sends the message that they may get away with it. Last year, we saw how this escalated violence in Kenosha, Portland, and elsewhere, with tragic results. Catanzara is making it more likely this will happen again, and at the same time he’s making it nearly impossible for people in Chicago to trust their police force.
Here are a few quotes from Catanzara:
• “Do I support [the Capitol attack]? I wouldn’t have partaken in it. They’re individuals. They get to do what they want. Again, they were voicing frustration. They’re entitled to voice their frustration.”
• “They clearly have been ignored and they’re still being ignored as if they’re lunatics and treasonous now, which is beyond stupid.”
• “Do I support the frustration? Listen, I don’t have any doubt that something shady happened in this election. You’re not going to convince me that that many people voted for Joe Biden. Never for the rest of my life will you ever convince me of that.”
• “If the worst crime [at the Capitol] is trespassing, so be it.”
• “it’s an inconvenience at this point, is all it is.”
After Catanzara made these statements, it was reported that a Capitol Police officer died as a result of the riot.
This is outrageous, but not surprising. Catanzara himself has had more than 35 official complaints against him as a police officer, and been suspended 6 times. He marched alongside white supremacists and QAnon supporters, and he is already being investigated by the Police Board for racist and violent social media posts, including one where he said Muslims “all deserve a bullet.”
Chicago’s FOP and other police unions have long promoted violent, unaccountable, and authoritarian policing - and they viciously attack activists and political leaders who are pushing for change. During this election, Chicago’s FOP, the national FOP, and many other police unions endorsed Trump and waged a campaign of fear, lies, and inflammatory rhetoric to promote his re-election, and the authoritarianism he stands for.
Chicago’s FOP in particular is notorious for attacking, intimidating, and threatening activists and political leaders who get in their way - and under Catanzara’s leadership, its actions have been more extreme and dangerous than ever.
It’s time for Catanzara to be fired as a police officer and removed from his position as leader of Chicago’s FOP. Join us in calling on Chicago city leaders to publicly call for his removal and do everything in their power to make it happen.