CNN has confirmed that the Chicago chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, known as Lodge 7, is supporting Officer Karol Chwiesiuk, who was charged with federal crimes for his role in the Jan. 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol Building. FOP Lodge 7 Vice President Daniel Gorman told CNN that the union is supporting Chwiesiuk’s appeal for the return of his firearm owner’s ID card, the possession of which is a requirement of his job on the Chicago police force.
During the first hearing of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol, four police officers who defended the Capitol that day expressed dismay at learning some of their attackers were also police officers. In their testimony, the officers also decried what they called a lack of support from the FOP, which represents officers in the local police department, and the and the U.S. Capitol Police Labor Committee, which functions as a union for officers in the Capitol Police Department.
But the Chicago FOP chapter has taken things a step further: Supporting an officer who was in league with those—some wielding weapons—who assaulted the Capitol and Metropolitan police officers who were defending the building and the lawmakers within. Meanwhile, Officer Michael Fanone of Washington, D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department told lawmakers at the July 27 Select Committee hearing that the FOP never reached out to him, even after the extent of the injuries he sustained on Jan. 6 was reported by news outlets.
In our July 6 report, “The Cops Who Joined In the Insurrection,” we noted that Tim Grace, the attorney described in the Chicago Sun-Times as representing Chwiesiuk in the federal government’s case against him, is also the go-to attorney for the Chicago FOP chapter. But when we called and emailed chapter President John Catanzara to ask if the union was representing Chwiesiuk in the government’s case against the Chicago police officer, Right Wing Watch received no response.
After his arrest, Chwiesiuk was ordered to have no guns in the home and was made to surrender his Illinois firearm owner’s ID card. The Chicago Police Department assigned him to desk duty. Now, with the support of the Chicago FOP chapter, he is asking the judge to return the ID card to him, since he needs it in order to keep his job as a police officer. The appeal to the court is accompanied by a letter from Gorman, who states the union’s intention to represent Chwiesiuk in his quest to remain a Chicago Police Officer, even after he joined in the Capitol breach and took a selfie in the ransacked office of Sen. Jeff Merkley.
In his letter, FOP’s Gorman explains:
Once Officer Chwiesiuk is successful in obtaining possession of his FOID card, he should notify the Chicago Police Department Human Resources division and request to be given an assignment. It is at that point that we (Union) can start the grievance process to get Officer Chwiesiuk into a pay-status.
The Chicago chapter of the FOP has a history of sidling up to far-right elements, as when a 2019 Lodge 7 rally drew members of the Proud Boys, the American Identity Movement, and American Guard. Following the Jan. 6 insurrection in Washington, D.C., Chicago FOP leader Catanzara made excuses for the insurrectionists, telling Chicago Public Radio:
This is not some mass insurrection, coup attempt, They’re not destroying or burning down the fricking Capitol building. This hyperbole and this emotion that the media is spewing now, like this is some kind of end-of-times scenario, is ridiculous.
Catanzara later walked back that statement a bit, but with an added swipe at those who he claimed “use the race card” against him.