By | Rachel Brooks
Staff | Telegraph Local
Above, Lightfoot as she appeared on a recent WGN-TV broadcast.
Chicago’s mayor Lori Lightfoot states that the police union is “extraordinarily reluctant to embrace reform.” Lightfoot made these comments in the wake of the nationwide protests of police brutality.
“Unfortunately, in history in our city, and I think the history of other cities, unions are extraordinarily reluctant to embrace reform and that’s a current state of affairs here. We have had to take them to arbitration to win very modest reforms, and that’s a shame of the history of collective bargaining where there hasn’t been an emphasis on reform and accountability,” said Lightfoot, as she was recently quoted by NPR news.
“These contracts are a significant problem and challenge in getting the reforms necessary.”
NPR News likewise reported that Lightfoot rose to political prominence in Chicago because she as a lawyer fought for police reform. NPR states that Lightfoot’s entire political career has been characterized by police criticism. She has made recent comments regarding how police brutality “demeans the badge.”
Over the weekend, Lighfoot spoke publicly regarding police misconduct and its impact upon the city of Chicago respectively. Lightfoot levies a new standard of zero tolerance toward police officer misconduct.
“Police misconduct, from harming residents to covering badges to using homophobic language, will not be tolerated. Period. If you believe a police officer has committed an act of misconduct, please call 311 to report it,” said Lightfoot in a tweet that was posted at 9:31pm on Friday, June 5.
In her televised public address, Lightfoot warned that the city government would “find, identify and strip of police powers,” any officer who violates the new conduct regulations.
As Chicago moves to reform police, some cities seek to abolish them altogether. The New York Times recently reported that the city council of Minneapolis, MN has vowed to dismantle the police force entirely. This came after the city council alleged that the Minneapolis police department cannot be reformed. The Minneapolis City Council states that it will rethink public safety “from the ground up.” These decisions were reached by nine-members of the city council. This was stated to be a veto-proof majority of the Minneapolis City Council.
The New York Times reports that many African American activist groups are now elated to learn that Minneapolis will disband the police, stating that they are safer without them. The New York Times reported that “Defund Police” supporting crowds erupted into roaring applause when they learned.
The city of Chicago does not appear to currently have designs on disbanding its own police department. Yet from Lightfoot’s own lips, the conversation regarding police work in Chicago is starting to change. All across Chicago a new spirit regarding civil rights and police reform is surging. The Chicago Tribune reports that, for example, city artists are using boarded up properties as canvases for sending a message regarding these issues. The boards over windows have been used to paint Black Lives Matter targeted messages. Some artists also used them to paint messages of hope to banish the bleak spirit that hangs over Chicago in these trying days.
Some have accepted these kindly, while others, such as two African American women in West Town, reportedly have denounced these behaviors and have pulled posters down from local structures. This was also reported by The Chicago Tribune.