Chicago, IL – Newly-elected Mayor Lori Lightfoot blamed the violent and bloody Memorial Day weekend in Chicago on her struggle to negotiate a new contract with the officers of the Chicago Police Department and said police have a problem with “entitlement.”
“We’ll ultimately come to a contract because we have to, right?” Lightfoot said in an interview with CAN-TV on May 30.
“But the notion that the FOP is going to live in this fantasy world where they’re absolutely adamantly against anything that looks like reform, even when it’s in the best interest of their members. That’s not going to be a reality that’s going to exist at least as long as I’m mayor of the city,” she said.
“I’d love for them to partner with us – I think there’s a lot of things that we actually could agree on… but there’s not going to be a lot of space in that if the [response] constantly is no, no, no and an attitude of entitlement,” the mayor continued.
“They’re entitled to do their job. To serve and protect. To live out the oath that they’ve sworn. Everything else beyond that, we’ll deal with at the bargaining table," she added.
“But you know, there were rumors floating around about — and I didn’t verify this — but rumors floating around that they were telling their officers, ‘Don’t do anything. Over Memorial Day weekend, don’t intercede,’” Lightfoot claimed. “‘If you see some criminal activity, just lay back, do nothing.’ I hope to God that wasn’t true because, man oh man, if that happened there’s going to be a reckoning.”
When the mayor was asked if she really believe Chicago cops sat back and did nothing during the holiday weekend, Lightfoot hedged her response and then mischaracterized an incident that occurred several years ago as support for her assertion.
“Well, it happened two years ago – almost three years ago – leading into Labor Day in 2016 when we had this catastrophic level of violence, the then-[union] administration — which, there are some carryovers from that — put out a memo telling officers that they should not show up for work, that they shouldn’t do their job, that they shouldn’t be the police,” she said.
A fact check showed that Chicago’s Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) never told officers to skip their regularly-scheduled work shifts protecting and serving the city.
The Chicago Tribune reported that the FOP called for officers to boycott overtime requests for Labor Day weekend of 2016, not to miss work.
"In order to show unity and to protest the continued disrespect of Chicago Police Officers and the killings of Law Enforcement Officers across our Country, we are requesting FOP Members to refrain from volunteering to work ... for the entire Labor Day Weekend," read the FOP memo to which Lightfoot incorrectly referred.
The FOP urged officers to spend time with their families instead of volunteering to work extra shifts, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Lightfoot was unable to offer any concrete information to back up her claim that officers were told to blow off work over the most recent Memorial Day weekend, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
The fact that the amount of violence in the city did not increase dramatically over recent years despite the chronic violence in the city showed that it was unlikely the FOP tried to keep officers from actively patrolling the streets.
Lightfoot’s office would not confirm whether the mayor had been able to confirm the rumors she’d heard about the FOP telling officers not to intercede when they saw crime on the streets, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
“All we can say about this is that the mayor heard it from someone who’s in a position to know, and she heard it from a law enforcement source,” Lightfoot’s spokeswoman, Anel Ruiz, told the Chicago Sun-Times.
FOP President Kevin Graham said he had no idea what Lightfoot was talking about.
“That’s ridiculous,” Graham said. “I am unaware of anyone telling anyone not to do their job.”
Chicago Alderman Chris Taliaferro, chairman of the City Council Committee on Public Safety, told the Chicago Sun-Times he hadn’t heard any of the rumors to which Lightfoot referred, nor had the 20-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department been able to verify those allegations.