When a police officer is killed it is professional practice to support surviving families and colleagues by the agency’s leadership and the jurisdiction’s leaders. Whether by genuine compassion or for a photo opportunity, a hospital visit shows some level of concern for a fallen hero. But what happens when an anti-police leader goes to the hospital for show?
When two officers were shot, one fatally and one clinging to life, Mayor Lori Lightfoot arrived on the 7th floor of the hospital where concerned and grieving police officers gathered in support of their fallen officers. Lightfoot stopped to talk to the father of the surviving officer, who is a retired Chicago police officer. Witnesses to that encounter reported that he yelled at the Mayor, blaming her for the violence against the officers. The Mayor listened calmly, the proceeded toward the crowd of officers to speak with them.
They moved away from her, behind a row of chairs, and turned their backs to her. The Mayor was reportedly shaken by the rejection. The only question is why she would have expected anything else after her consistently disastrous public safety policies.
“The police officers’ decision to turn their backs on the mayor while waiting with the family on the 7th floor was significant,” FOP President John Catanzara told Chicago Sun-times reporter Michael Sneed in an interview. “Turning their backs on the mayor was an excellent example of how the hundreds of police officers felt waiting outside the hospital,” Catanzara said in Sneed’s August 9th article.
In another expression of officers’ anger at Lightfoot, she was asked not to attend a service dedicated to the slain officer, Ella French, after the officers in French’s unit heard that the Mayor was planning to take part. Chicago police Superintendent David Brown was not very well received by a number of officers, but did attend. Brown cleared the room of all but police officers and spent an hour listening to officer complaints. According to Sneed in an August 11th article in the Sun-Times, the concerns “ranged from how officers feel they get no support, to how the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office charges — or fails to charge — cases, to the department’s new policy on foot pursuits.”
In a public statement, Mayor Lightfoot stated “now is not the time for divisive and toxic rhetoric or reporting. This is a time for us to come together as a city. We have a common enemy and it is the conditions that breed the violence and the manifestations of violence, namely illegal guns, and gangs.”
To those forensic experts in statement analysis, a tool used by investigators to examine a person’s word use to discover hidden motives, meanings, and attempts at deception, the Mayor’s statement could be an interesting insight. Lightfoot’s call for unity is really a call for citizens to ignore her anti-police rhetoric and policies. She subtly implies that anyone criticizing her is “divisive and toxic”. She pleads for favor among journalists in reporting on the attacks on the officers and her response. Her plea for unity is a typical appeal for silence among her critics, in a tone suggesting that any criticism at this time is an insult to the dead officer and her struggling partner.
In a very interesting phrasing she rails against “conditions” that breed violence, and refers to “manifestations” of violence. This is a passive way of de-personalizing the real problem which is individual criminal activity. Instead of calling offenders to account, she wants to alter “conditions”. It sounds similar to the efforts of the Biden administration to ignore conditions at the border and focus on changing the poverty and corruption in Central and South America. Pie in the sky instead of letting the law work as intended.
Finally, Lightfoot uses the terms “breeding of violence” and “manifestations of violence”, an artful dodge of reality that puts violence in ephemeral terms rather than speaking of criminals terrorizing the citizens and their police officers.
Lightfoot, like many politicized leaders living in their fantasy utopian future of peace, are ignoring the reality of the real fight going on for peace on her streets. The officers who turned their backs to the Mayor perfectly symbolized what she, in fact, has done to her city.