CHICAGO (AP) — The president of the Chicago Police officers’ union apologized Friday for defending the pro-Trump mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol and downplaying this week’s violence that left four people dead.
In a statement posted on Facebook, John Catanzara, called his “poorly worded” comments made during an interview with WBEZ, Chicago’s public radio station, a lapse in judgment.
“I certainly would never justify any attacks on citizens, democracy or law enforcement,” he wrote.
Catanzara has been a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump. In the initial comments, he characterized participants as supporters of the president who believed— as Trump has falsely claimed repeatedly—that the election had been stolen. Catanzara, who said he, too, believes that “something shady” had happened to secure the election for former Vice President Joe Biden, said the crowd had merely “pushed past security” and did not engage in violent acts such as looting or arson once inside.
But those comments were also made before officials announced that a U.S. Capitol police officer who had been injured in the melee had died. Catanzara did not mention the officer’s death, saying only, “After seeing more video and the full aftermath, my comments would have been different.”
Catanzara’s initial comments drew harsh criticism from Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and others for his characterization of the ugly assault on the nation’s Capitol that left four other people dead, including a woman who was shot by police.
And on Friday, the National Fraternal Order of Police President Patrick Yoes in a strongly worded statement joined the growing chorus of critics of 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…” Yoes wrote.
Catanzara has appeared in public wearing a shirt emblazoned with the words “Cops For Trump.” And after the president tweeted his congratulations when Catanzara was elected president of the union, Catanzara said he’d accepted an invitation to the White House to attend Trump’s acceptance speech when he was nominated for a second term.