Chicago police union president: Saying riots are ‘treason’ is ‘beyond ridiculous’
'They get to do what they want,' John Catanzara said of people whose efforts left a police officer dead.
John Catanzara, who was elected last May as the president of the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police, is defending the people who participated in the violent siege of the U.S. Capitol that resulted in the death of a police officer.
“There was no arson, there was no burning of anything, there was no looting, there was very little destruction of property,” Catanzara told WBEZ in a Wednesday evening phone interview. “It was a bunch of pissed-off people that feel an election was stolen, somehow, some way.”
Catanzara — who was reprimanded in 2017 for posing with a sign supporting Trump while wearing his uniform — told the local news outlet that he, too, has doubts about the results of the 2020 presidential election.
“I don’t have any doubt that something shady happened in this election,” Catanzara said. “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. But, again, it still comes down to proof.”
Catanzara then dismissed the images that all Americans have seen splashed across media outlets and social media for the past two days.
“Evidence matters,” he said. “Until that appears, shame on them for what they did, but it was out of frustration. 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.”
The lodge leader’s assertions, although passionate, are not factual.
Wednesday’s rioters did damage property at the Capitol Building, plus ransacked offices and stole electronic items. They threatened the lives of hundreds of duly-elected lawmakers, demanding to be let on to the floor of the House and Senate. They did not “push past security;” they attacked hundreds of Capitol police officers, one of whom died after the melee.
“At approximately 9:30 p.m. this evening (January 7, 2021), United States Capitol Police Officer Brian D. Sicknick passed away due to injuries sustained while on-duty,” according to a statement late Thursday from the U.S. Capitol Police. “Officer Sicknick was responding to the riots on Wednesday, January 6, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol and was injured while physically engaging with protesters. He returned to his division office and collapsed.”
Catanzara claimed in his Wednesday evening interview that while he would not have engaged in that behavior, “They’re individuals.”
“They get to do what they want,” he said. “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.”
He also called the riot “an inconvenience at this point, is all it is.”
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot tweeted a response.
“This wasn’t ‘frustration.’ It was a violent insurrection,” wrote the mayor. “The comments by John Catanzara, Chicago FOP President, either demonstrate clear delusion or reckless disrespect for the rule of law — or both.”