Organizers call for Lightfoot to de-escalate police department


Tyler LaRiviere/Chicago Sun-Times via AP

Mayor Lori Lightfoot answers a reporter’s question during a news conference to provide an update to the latest efforts by the Racial Equity Rapid Response Team in Chicago on Monday, April 20, 2020.

Leaders from over 25 community and faith-based organizations — including Cook County Public Defender Amy Campanelli — wrote an open letter to Mayor Lori Lightfoot criticizing her response to months of civil unrest and increasing escalation of force at such demonstrations by the Chicago Police Department. 

“As Mayor of Chicago you occupy one of the most powerful and influential platforms for change in our city, and we are facing a pivotal moment that begs for moral leadership,” the letter read.

“Unfortunately, your response has been to point fingers at other city leaders and double down on the use of heavily armed, militarized police to protect property interests, all while ignoring the urgent calls for meaningful police reform.”

Rich Harvard, a pastor with the Inclusive Collective, was one of the leaders that helped compose the letter. 

“If Chicago is going to move forward in a more just and equitable way, we must reimagine what public safety looks like instead of relying on the same old tactics that yield death and decimated communities,” Harvard said.

After citing the decades of history involving brutality and misconduct from CPD officers, the letter references the most recent unrest — prompted by the Aug. 14 police shooting of unarmed 20-year-old Latrell Allen in Englewood.

“In the aftermath of Mr. Allen’s shooting two weeks ago, the right thing for you to do would have been to hold the police accountable and address the pain and fear our community felt in the wake of yet another act of law enforcement violence,” the letter read. “Instead, we witnessed that in your eyes, the destruction of property is a far graver sin than state-sanctioned anti-Black violence.” 

Dear Mayor Lightfoot (Text)

DePaul junior Surdeep Singh Chauhan said the letter frustrated him, as it illustrates Lightfoot’s “mission” to “further segregate the city of Chicago and militarize the police force against Black and Brown bodies.” 

Time and time again we have evidence of the police unlawfully beating protestors, failing miserably at their jobs, and not taking precautions with the COVID-19,” Chauhan said. “Lori Lightfoot continues to pander to the affluent, mostly Caucasian citizens of the North Side of Chicago in her condemnation of looting and violence in other states, yet never acknowledging the atrocities her own damn department is committing.” 

Xavier Ramey is the chief executive officer of Justice Informed, a social impact consulting firm. Ramey said that the reason he joined the Black Lives Matter movement was for “accountability and civic communication” because the tools Chicago uses for public safety are often the “drivers of a lack of safety.”

“We don’t need more punitive responses to people calling out for justice,” Ramey said. “We need urgent movement to listen to Black people’s solutions for injustice, a consistent keeping with a narrative that shines light on what we as a people are truly facing in this city and country due to the blatant apathy, or non-urgent ignorance of those who think they ally with us in our march for justice, and we need safety from police and policies that compromise our ability to achieve the dream America has always said we were already living.”

Ramey then spoke about what is needed to ensure the needs of the Black Lives Matter Movement are met and emphasizes the need to defund the police and invest in community and economic infrastructure to ensure accountability. 

“This should be Mayor Lightfoot’s job. She showed empathy during shelter in place, and scolding condemnation when the cries of Black people rang out again for our lives to matter,” Ramey said.