CHICAGO (CBS Chicago/CBS News) — A group of elected officials on the city, county, and state level on Sunday issued a statement condemning Chicago Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara Jr.’s letter to President Donald Trump asking for federal assistance in dealing with “chaos” in Chicago.
The statement compared Catanzara’s request to the situation in Portland, Oregon, where federal authorities have been sent in despite opposition from state and local officials.
“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 statement said.
Under an executive order from President Trump in June, federal agents have been deployed to protect federal monuments and buildings in cities such as Portland, Seattle and others. The federal courthouse in Portland is also under their jurisdiction.
A recent report from Oregon Public Broadcasting found that federal officials from a number of agencies have been driving around and detaining people. Personal accounts and video posted to social media show the federal officers detaining individuals without explanation, according to OPB. One demonstrator, Mark Pettibone, told OPB he was “basically tossed” into a van and driven downtown without explanation.
The statement also referenced what it called the Chicago Police Department’s “own history of civilian torture and kidnapping.”
In a 2015 report, the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper called the Homan Square narcotics investigation facility a “black site” at which those arrested are beaten and denied access to lawyers and others. Police denied the allegations.
“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,” the statement said.
The statement continued: “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.”
Finally, the statement claimed Chicago is the only major city in the country 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,” the statement said. “We are clear whose side we’re on.”
Catanzara’s letter was posted on the FOP Lodge 7 Facebook page on Saturday, with a note that it would “get to President Trump’s desk one way or another.”
In the letter, Catanzara wrote: “I am certain you are aware of the chaos currently affecting our city on a regular basis now. I am writing to formally ask you for help from the federal government. Mayor Lightfoot has proved to be a complete failure who is either unwilling or unable to maintain law and order here.”
Catanzara wrote that he would be willing to sit down anytime with President Trump 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 this police department,” he wrote.
In a portion that was excised in a subsequent revision that appeared on FOP Lodge 7 letterhead, Catanzara also noted that for a few years, he has “proudly and repeatedly” spoken in the City Council chambers wearing “Trump 45” gear, and wrote that whether the mayor was Rahm Emanuel or Lori Lightfoot, he has “pushed back on their failing liberal policies.”
In response to the letter, Mayor Lightfoot’s office said: “We will not dignify this or any other political stunt. We will, however, continue to support the true, hard working men and women of the police department.”
Catanzara’s letter came a day after violent protests in Grant Park, as demonstrators tried to take down the statue of Christopher Columbus in the park.
The statement condemning the letter was endorsed by Ald. Jeanette Taylor (20th), Ald. Rossana Rodriguez Sanchez (33rd), Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th), Ald. Michael Rodriguez (22nd), Ald. Matt Martin (47th), Ald. Maria Hadden (49th), Ald. Daniel La Spata (1st), Ald. Carlos Ramirez Rosa (35th), Illinois state Rep. Delia Ramirez (D-Chicago), Democratic state house nominee Lakesia Collins, state Sen. Celina Villanueva (D-Chicago), state Rep. Theresa Mah (D-Chicago), state. Rep. Will Guzzardi (D-Chicago), State Sen. Robert Peters (D-Chicago), Cook County Commissioner Alma Anaya (D-7th), and Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson (D-1st).
CBS News’ Caroline Linton contributed to this report.