A group of Chicago police officers turned their backs on Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Saturday during her visit to University of Chicago Medical Center, where two officers were hospitalized after being shot at a traffic stop.
One of the officers, Ella French, 29, later died of her injuries. The father of the second officer, himself a retired member of the Chicago police, berated Lightfoot and blamed her for the incident, a source told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Lightfoot listened to the father, and then attempted to speak with other officers present. However, the group of officers walked away turned their backs on the mayor.
“They did the about-face—it looked like it had been choreographed,” one person told the Sun-Times.
“In a time of tragedy, emotions run high and that is to be expected. The mayor spoke to a range of officers that tragic night and sensed the overwhelming sentiment was about concern for their fallen colleagues,” the mayor’s office said in a statement on Monday.
“This is a time for us to come together as a city,” the statement continued. “We have a common enemy and it is the conditions that breed the violence and the manifestations of violence, namely illegal guns, and gangs.”
Southwest Side Alderman Matt O’Shea said Chicago police morale has hit an “all-time low” in comments to the Chicago Tribune. O’Shea’s 19th ward is home to a number of officers.
“We’re significantly down in officers. They are rushing for the exits. They are leaving law enforcement. They’re looking to get hired by suburban municipalities. They feel that leadership in Chicago does not have their back,” O’Shea said.
The incident comes amid continued high numbers of homicides and shootings when compared with previous years. Chicago saw 105 murders in July 2021, down from 107 in July 2020 but up from 44 in 2019. Police have recorded 445 homicides for 2021 so far, compared with 446 over the same period in 2020 and 290 in 2019.
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