Chicago police union president defends pro-Trump protesters at US Capitol riot

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Fraternal Order of Police president John Catanzara defended the pro-Trump protest that turned into a riot, with supporters storming the Capitol Wednesday and trashing the sacred halls of democracy.

He said while he was horrified at the chaos, the vast majority of people in attendance were "peaceful protesters."

Catanzara insisted it was "a handful of people" who were the problem, despite video of massive crowds swarming and breaking into the halls of Congress.

"Disgraceful," Catanzara said. "All the way around. A handful of people out of a crowd of 450,000 plus, decided to take the law into their own hands and swarm a building they should have obviously even entered."

At a rally before the chaos, the president himself said he'd march with the mass and encouraged the crowd of tens of thousands to take matters into their own hands.

Catanzara has been a staunch advocate for Trump and his "law and order message." He blamed the president for the riot, but only partially.

"I don't think anybody anticipated the events to unfold as they did and that's where I said shame on the president, shame on his sons, shame on Rudy Giuliani. They did nothing but stoke the emotions of the crowd," he said. "And whether some planted agitators or plain out Trump supporters took advantage of the situation and crossed the line, that's on them."

Video of the violent run on the nation's capital is littered with signs, flags and apparel bearing the president's name but Catanzara appeared to give some support to allegations from the right that the violent mob was Antifa, which there is no evidence to support.

"To think there's not a possibility that Antifa did not infiltrate, even a handful of them in that crowd to make the optics look bad, even worse than they were by committing more egregious acts, if you don't think that's a possibility than shame on you," he said.

The mob ran through the Capitol long enough to occupy the Speaker's office and vandalize. This past summer, Black Lives Matter protesters were run out Lafayette Park in Washington, D.C. with flash bangs and smoke bombs.

"Lafayette Park was different because they were told to leave the park repeatedly and they did not. Yesterday was a spontaneous event," Catanzara said.

Catanzara is calling for the prosecution of yesterday's capitol vandals but said most of the crowd had understandable frustration.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot shot back in a tweet, saying in part, "This wasn't 'frustration.' It was a violent insurrection."

The Chicago chapter of the Council for American and Islamic Relations is also calling on Catanzara to resign over his comments.
Copyright © 2021 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.