“We will shut you down,” said Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot, “we will cite you, and if we need to, we will arrest you, and we will take you to jail.” She was stern and resolute in the proclamation, leaving little doubt that she intended to follow through with her threats.
And to whom were those threats addressed? Was she talking to Chicago’s violent gangsters, the people who make life intolerable for their fellow citizens? Was she referring to those responsible for shooting 75 people in the city over the weekend, killing nine of them, including a police officer?
Of course not. The mayor’s admonition quoted above was delivered in May 2020, when she was in high dudgeon over those flouting social distancing directives by hosting parties during the Covid pandemic. Given her indignation at parties last year, it seems odd that she herself recently played host to one of the largest parties Chicago or any city has ever seen. The Lollapalooza music festival drew almost 400,000 people to Grant Park over four days, and the mayor even took the stage on opening day to welcome the crowd.
So Mayor Lightfoot can occasionally if inconsistently work herself up into a lather over Covid protocols, but she is far more reserved in her public comments about Chicago’s violence problem, which has readers of the Chicago Tribune and the Sun-Times scanning each Monday’s editions for the totals of dead and wounded as they would check the Cubs’ and White Sox’s box scores.
Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Lightfoot was somber and measured in her remarks about the death of Chicago police officer Ella French, who was shot and killed Saturday night while making a traffic stop on the city’s South Side. French’s partner was also shot and remains in critical condition at the time of this writing.
The mayor was appropriately laudatory of the Chicago Police Department. “The police are not our enemy,” she said, pointing out what should be but is not obvious to a significant minority of the city’s population. “We have a common enemy,” she continued, “it’s the guns and the gangs.”
Police Officer Ella French
End of Watch: August 7, 2021
We will #NeverForget the true bravery she exemplified as she laid her life down to protect others.
Please hold her family, loved ones and fellow Chicago Police officers in your thoughts as we grieve the loss of this hero. pic.twitter.com/kEUlNTv0Z4
— Chicago Police (@Chicago_Police) August 8, 2021
For Lightfoot, this is an improvement over previous pronouncements on crime, in which she has been quick to blame guns but loath to blame the people who use them with such wild abandon and deadly effect every night and day across much of the city.
“No gang member, no drug dealer, no gun dealer,” she said, “can ever have a moment of peace on any block, any neighborhood, not in our city.”
These were hollow words from the mayor, delivered without a trace of the moral indignation she brought when she excoriated people who were so depraved as to throw parties last summer. Chicago cops know, cops everywhere know, that combatting gang violence inevitably involves confrontations with gang members, some of whom will resist with violence. And they know that when those confrontations go awry, as some always will, Mayor Lightfoot and the media and the racial grievance industry will rush in to demonize the involved cops, even as the instigating criminal, no matter how numerous his prior offenses, no matter how despicable his past, is hoisted onto a pedestal and hailed as a hero. It happens every time.
Talk is cheap, Mayor Lightfoot, and yours is the cheapest of all.