In 2019, protesters gathered outside the office of Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx to object to dropped charges against former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett.
Last week, Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol.
While those events were sparked by different circumstances, they both drew members of far-right groups.
Many people were shocked by what they saw last week, but Foxx was not among them, and she says the parallels between the two events are clear.
“The imagery of someone hanging from the Senate gallows or the image of the news outside, those are shocking images,” Foxx said. “But the notion that angry mobs of white supremacists gathering to come after elected leaders is the same thing that happened here in Chicago in 2019.”
And now, FOP leadership is under fire.
In an interview last week with WBEZ, John Catanzara, the head of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7 and an outspoken supporter of President Donald Trump, said of the Jan. 6 riots at the Capitol: “There was no arson, there was no burning of anything, there was no looting, there was very little destruction of property. It was a bunch of pissed-off people that feel an election was stolen, somehow, some way.”
Catanzara has since apologized for those comments and a supermajority of alderman have called for his resignation.
But for Foxx, his initial defense of the Capitol riots illustrates the often fractured relationship between law enforcement and the communities they serve.
“His comments are not just about him,” Foxx said. “It’s about the men and women he represents and he does them no service when he speaks.”
Meanwhile, in Springfield, lawmakers are working on a major police reform bill that would expand use of force training, prevent the destruction of police misconduct records, prohibit chokeholds and require all law enforcement to use body cameras.
Foxx said these efforts could help build trust with communities.
“These are things that have not been present before and will give people who have to engage with police a sense of comfort that there is professionalism and standardization that does not exist now,” Foxx said.