Dozens of elected officials blast Chicago police union letter to Pres. Trump over city violence

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Illinois, Cook County and Chicago leaders are responding to an appeal from the head of the city's police union to President Trump for help with local violence.

Nearly two dozen lawmakers blasted Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara's letter in a joint statement Sunday.

"We resoundingly condemn FOP President John Catanzara's request that President Trump intervene in Chicago. This is a blatant attempt to instigate further violence against the young people who are leading the fight for real safety and justice in Chicago, and is particularly frightening given the situation in Portland, where unidentified federal agents have been throwing protestors into unmarked vehicles," the elected officials' statement said. "Yet as terrifying as the reports from Portland are, we must situate Catanzara's letter in the Chicago Police Department's own history of civilian torture and kidnappings. We stand with the organizers and activists who have called for an immediate end to such practices by the CPD, and the closure of Homan Square and all CPD black sites."

RELATED: Head of Chicago police union turns to Pres. Trump for help with 'chaos' in city

A Cook County commissioner said more policing is not the answer.

"Police officers in schools dragging young people down stairs, or police officers punching a girl in the mouth, federal troops kidnapping people, or Chicago Police Department -- folks are going missing -- all of it is disastrous," said County Commissioner Brandon Johnson.

Catanzara wrote a letter to the president on Saturday, in which he criticized Mayor Lori Lightfoot as a "complete failure."

"Mayor Lightfoot has proved to be a complete failure who is either unwilling or unable to maintain law and order here," Catanzara wrote. "I would be willing to sit down anytime and discuss ideas about how we can bring civility back to the streets of Chicago. These politicians are failing the good men and women of this city and the police department."

A spokesperson for the mayor responded to the letter Saturday, saying "We will not dignify this or any other political stunt."

RELATED: Trump writes letter criticizing Chicago violence; Gov. Pritzker, Mayor Lightfoot dismiss it as 'stunt'

"We will, however, continue to support the true, hardworking men and women of the police department," the spokesperson said.

The letter comes amid harsh criticism of the city's police department after clashes with protesters near the large statue of Christopher Columbus in Grant Park Friday night.

RELATED: Chicago Italian Americans, other leaders call for peace, threaten 'war' in Little Italy's Arrigo Park

Read the full statement from the group of elected officials condemning Catanzara's letter below:

"We resoundingly condemn FOP President John Catanzara's request that President Trump intervene in Chicago. This is a blatant attempt to instigate further violence against the young people who are leading the fight for real safety and justice in Chicago, and is particularly frightening given the situation in Portland, where unidentified federal agents have been throwing protestors into unmarked vehicles.

Yet as terrifying as the reports from Portland are, we must situate Catanzara's letter in the Chicago Police Department's own history of civilian torture and kidnappings. We stand with the organizers and activists who have called for an immediate end to such practices by the CPD, and the closure of Homan Square and all CPD black sites.

Further, we ask our friends and allies in the labor movement to join us in condemning the FOP's outrageous request. President Catanzara's letter puts him on the side of the violent few who defend property and profit before people. There is no place for such an institution in the house of labor.

And finally, Chicago is the only major city in the nation that has not yet made meaningful changes to our police budget in response to the growing civil rights movement in the streets. We are being asked to make a choice between the real safety of community investments being demanded by young people in the streets, or the repression and surveillance offered by the FOP and its leadership. We are clear whose side we're on."
Copyright © 2020 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.