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Lightfoot’s waffling failed Chicago

By Ray Hanania
June 12, 2020

As mayor, Lori Lightfoot has a powerful soapbox to influence not only Chicago but the entire region. Being African American, a woman and gay, her voice has resonance.Ê

But she didn’t seem to take that responsibility very seriously this past week, when she decided to represent herself not as a mayor for everyone, but rather as an African American, female gay mayor.

Lightfoot offered a State of the City address last week in which she made it clear where her priorities are. Rather than being a voice for the victims of these riots that have spread across the country, she seemed to want to “contextualize” it all.

There is no context in which violence is acceptable.

The violence we saw wasn’t white people against black people, or Hispanics against whites or blacks. It was violence by criminals and agitators who were intent on exploiting the anger of seeing George Floyd, an African American with a checkered past, being unjustly restrained so excessively that he died.

There is no justification for Floyd’s death, regardless of his past record or his troubles. No one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes, and Floyd certainly did not deserve to be killed because he allegedly passed a counterfeit 20-dollar bill to purchase merchandise from a grocery store.

Yet, the truth is important for everyone to know. We should have the truth about Floyd and his past. We should have the truth about the police officer, Dereck Chauvin, who held Floyd down with his knee, apparently killing him. Did they really know each other? Did they have a past? Was that a part of the problem?

Of course, those facts have been made irrelevant today by the protests that turned into violence that have become politicized by the Right and the Left.

Lightfoot had an opportunity to be someone who could bring people together to make a more powerful statement against the violence and against Floyd’s killing.

I think she fell short. I think she resorted to her own personal life and experiences. I think instead of being a leader, she became an activist; and Chicago paid for it.

The worst thing she can do is to undermine the authority of the police. That may quell some of the emotions and anger that have fueled the protests and the violence that has walked hand in hand with the protests over the past two weeks. But all it will do is make the two disjointed sides America has become more rigid and less understanding.

There doesn’t seem to be a middle ground, or anyone willing to lead the people back to the middle ground.

What is that middle ground? Chauvin was wrong, but Chauvin does not represent every police officer. Floyd may have had a past and refused to listen to police when they tried to arrest him, but Floyd doesn’t represent every African American.

Removing the police from the Chicago Public Schools, and from other communities, may sooth the anger of the protesters; but who is thinking about the impact that will have on crime?

The real problem is crime. Yes, some people are unjustly harmed in the fight against crime. That is a tragedy, and the system should address it using the rule of law and using facts.

But neither facts nor the rule of law seem to have been in play in this country during the past two weeks, and neither has there been good leadership.

Lightfoot’s waffling may have contributed to the intensity of the violence, maybe not. But it certainly did nothing to prevent it.
Ê
(Ray Hanania is an award-winning syndicated columnist who covered Chicago City Hall for nearly two decades “from Daley to Daley.” Read more of his columns and download his podcasts by visiting Hanania.com. Email him at [email protected])

Ray Hanania’s column is just a fraction of the content that appears in this week’s print edition of the Greater Southwest News-Herald. Want to get the all the news? Pick up the Greater Southwest News-Herald on local newsstands for just 75 cents a copy. For greater savings and convenience, call (708) 496-0265 during weekday business hours and order a subscription by mail, delivered each week to your home or business.

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