Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images
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'What are we going to have left in our community?'
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot sparred with city officials in an audio conference last Sunday after several accused the mayor of limiting protection to the city's central business district and leaving the south and west sides unprotected as deadly riots erupted in the city over George Floyd's death.
Black Lives Matter protests and riots ravaged the city May 30-31, leaving 25 dead and 85 wounded by gunfire in the city's deadliest weekend in 60 years. Chicago's 911 dispatch center received 65,000 calls in 24 hours on Sunday — 50,000 more than usual.
What did they say?
In the call, which was held by the mayor's office to brief all 50 of the city's aldermen, officials reportedly urged the mayor to use resources at her disposal to help protect their communities from violence sweeping the city.
According to WTTW-TV, which obtained audio of the call, "one alderman wept [and] others grew angry with the mayor, demanding to know what her strategy was to stop the violence."
Several on the call repeated the Chicago Aldermanic Black Caucus' criticism of Lightfoot's decision to deploy 375 Illinois National Guard members to block off the Loop and the central business district while opting not to deploy the National Guard to other areas of the city, leaving them as "easy targets" for rioters and looters.
"What are we going to have left in our community?" asked Alderman Michelle Harris (8th Ward). "I feel like I am at ground zero ... my major business district is shattered."
Alderman Emma Mitts (37th Ward) said that it was like "the wild, wild west" in her district.
Alderman Pat Dowell (3rd Ward) added that she felt helpless to protect her residents, especially the elderly and the most vulnerable.
When Lightfoot was finally able to speak, she defended her response to the riots, specifically saying the criticism that she protected downtown at the expense of other districts "offends me deeply, personally, in part because it is simply not so."
"We've been working our a** off," Lightfoot said. "It is all over the city."
"I don't know about you, but I haven't seen s**t like this before, not in Chicago," she said.
When Dowell asked Lightfoot to use the National Guard to protect grocery stores and pharmacies, the mayor responded by arguing that "they are not a magic tool, they are the military."
Alderman Susan Sadlowski-Garza (10th Ward) broke down in tears while pleading with Lightfoot for assistance.
"My ward is a s**t show," she said, mentioning that police cars and banks had been set ablaze. "They are shooting at the police."
Things turned personal
At another point during the call when Alderman Raymond Lopez (15th Ward) criticized Lightfoot for leaving his district and others vulnerable, things got ugly.
"We can't expect our police, and I don't fault them at all, to be able to control this," said Lopez, a frequent critic of the mayor, insinuating help is needed from the National Guard. "Half our neighborhoods are already obliterated. It's too late."
When he finished, Lightfoot declined to respond and attempted to move onto the next question, but Lopez demanded an answer.
"It's not something you ignore. This is a question that I have," he urged before the mayor shot back, saying, "I think you're 100% full of s**t."
"F*** you, then. Who are you to tell me I'm full of s***?" Lopez responded angrily. "Maybe you should come out and see what's going on."
"If you think we're not ready, and we stood by and let the neighborhoods go up, there's nothing intelligent that I could say to you," Lightfoot said. "That is the stupidest thing I have ever heard. I understand you want to preen."
"Mayor, you need to check your f***ing attitude. That's what you need to do," Lopez fired back, before several other aldermen interjected, attempting to de-escalate the situation.
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