78 Community Groups Urge Chicago Police Board to Fire Officer and FOP Head John Catanzara

“A man like Catanzara patrolling the streets of Chicago with a gun and impunity is a threat to the safety of all Chicagoans.”

Chicago, IL — Today, a coalition of 78 religious, civil rights and community organizations sent a letter to the Chicago Police Board urging them to terminate Officer John Catanzara. The letter—which was convened by Muslim Advocates, CAIR-Chicago, the ACLU of Illinois, the Illinois Muslim Civic Coalition and the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago (CIGOC)—and signed by an additional 47 Chicago-area and 26 national organizations, specifically urges the board to swiftly act on charges filed with the board on January 26 for 72 violations of the police code of conduct.  Several of those violations stem from Officer Catanzara calling Muslims “savages” who “all deserve a bullet.” Instead of apologizing to Chicago’s Muslim community when asked, Catanzara referenced an offensive, anti-Muslim trope about mutilating genitals and a declared that, “I could really give a damn what they think.”





The letter raises concerns about what message failing to fire Catanzara sends to the Chicago Police Department, which has an “extraordinary and troubling record of violence against Black and Brown communities.” As the letter states, “Should the Police Board fail to swiftly discharge Catanzara, it will send the unmistakable message to the rest of law enforcement and the City of Chicago that naked bigotry and calls to murder people… are entirely acceptable.”

The letter concludes: “A man like Catanzara patrolling the streets of Chicago with a gun and impunity is a threat to the safety of all Chicagoans. That’s why it is vital that the Chicago Police Board protect the people of Chicago by swiftly discharging him and that all city officials make clear that hostility, racism, and overt calls to kill people based on their religion have no place in CPD.”

Signers of the letter include: 

CONVENERS: Muslim Advocates, CAIR-Chicago, ACLU of Illinois, Illinois Muslim Civic Coalition, Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago (CIGOC)

CHICAGO AND ILLINOIS ORGANIZATIONS: 32nd Ward United, 48th Ward Neighbors for Justice, Action for a Better Tomorrow Sauk Valley, ADL Midwest, AIDS Foundation Chicago

Americans for Democratic Action Illinois Chapter (ADA), BYP 100 Chicago Chapter, Center on Halsted, Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (CAASE), Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, Chicago Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Chicago Mosque, Communities United, Community Renewal Society, DRIVE 45th Ward, Ephraim Bahar Cultural Center (EBCC), Equality Illinois, Equip for Equality, Faith First Project, Good Trouble Coalition, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, Indivisible Brookfield, Indivisible Chicago, Indivisible Chicago-South Side, Indivisible IL9 Andersonville – Edgewater, Indivisible Illinois, Indivisible South Suburban Chicago (ISSC), Indivisible Western Springs, Islamic Center of Naperville, Islamic Society of Greater Springfield

JACL Chicago, Jewish Voice for Peace – Chicago Chapter, Lambda Legal, Midwest Region, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, March For Our Lives Illinois, Masjid Al-Taqwa, MMUSA, Nikkei Uprising, NWSOFA Indivisible, ONE Northside, Peoples Church of Chicago, Save Our Southland, The Roosevelt Network at UIC, Unitarian Universalist Advocacy Network of Illinois (UUANI), Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association – Chicagoland Cluster, Unitarian Universalist Prison Ministry of Illinois, University of Illinois Chicago National Lawyers Guild

NATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS: 50 Miles More, American Atheists, American Muslim Bar Association, American Muslim Community Foundation, Americans for Democratic Action (ADA), Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism-California State University, San Bernardino, Color of Change, Faith in Public Life, ICNA Council for Social Justice, Interfaith Center of New York, Japanese American Citizens League, Justice for Women COVID-19 Task Force, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, MediaJustice, MUHSEN, Muslim American Society, Muslims for Liberty, National Center for Transgender Equality, National Equality Action Team (NEAT), Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, Sikh Coalition, Sonia Shah Organization, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, US Human Rights Network, Youth Over Guns