Chicago police officers turned their backs on Mayor Lori Lightfoot when she visited a hospital after two of their colleagues were shot, one fatally — and a former cop has blasted progressive politics for the death.
Officer Ella French, 29, is the first Windy City cop killed since Lightfoot became mayor in 2019, but the city’s officers have faced a surge of gunfire in the past two years.
French and her partner were hit by gunfire on the city’s South Side on Saturday after pulling a car over for expired plates, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Emonte Morgan, 21, and his brother Eric Morgan, 22, both convicted felons, have been charged in the brazen attack.
On Saturday, about 30 rank-and-file officers gave Lightfoot the cold shoulder when she showed up at the University of Chicago Medical Center and approached them as they stood vigil, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
When Lightfoot tried to talk with the injured officer’s father, himself a retired cop, he lambasted the mayor and blamed her for what happened earlier in the day, two sources at the scene told the newspaper.
And when she then tried to comfort the grieving officers nearby, they walked away and turned their backs on her, the sources told the outlet.
“They did the about-face — it looked like it had been choreographed,” one of the sources said, adding that the display was “astounding.”
Lightfoot, who one source said appeared shaken, then headed downstairs to speak to the media about the shooting.
“The police officers’ decision to turn their backs on the mayor while waiting with the family on the 7th floor was significant,” John Catanzara, the head of Chicago’s Fraternal Order of Police, told the Chicago Sun-Times.
“Turning their backs on the mayor was an excellent example of how the hundreds of police officers felt waiting outside the hospital,” Catanzara said, adding that police no longer support her leadership.
Meanwhile, city Alderman Anthony Napolitano, a former city cop and firefighter, said he didn’t believe Democrat Lightfoot was entirely anti-police — but that progressive politics are to blame.
“I never saw her as an anti-police advocate. But I will put this 550 percent on these socialists and these progressives in the City Council. This blood is on their hands, without a doubt,” Napolitano told the Sun-Times.
“They’re the ones who created this whole anti-police movement that has made these brazen acts of violence against police officers [possible] — 39 this year alone. This is created by them,” he said.
Alderman Matt O’Shea, Lightfoot’s hand-picked chairman of the City Council’s Aviation Committee, said he was not surprised at how she was given the cold shoulder on Saturday.
“They’re at a breaking point. Clearly, our police officers have been under siege, under-appreciated and thrown under the bus for the last year and a half. They feel — and rightfully so — that leadership across this country, across this city do not have their back,” O’Shea told the Sun-Times.
“Anybody who was working Saturday night as those calls came over the radio and they learned of what had happened to their colleagues — that’s a tipping point. And it’s a tipping point that many of us have been waiting to happen as the unbelievable violence we see in communities all across this city, where criminals have absolutely no regard for human life, no fear of the consequences of their actions,” he said.
“To shoot at point-blank range two Chicago police officers. We are a city in crisis,” O’Shea added.
When asked what message Lightfoot should get from the disdain shown by the rank-and-filers and the wounded cop’s father, he said: “I would hope she gets an understanding that police officers across this city feel that leadership does not have their back. That’s what I’m hearing. That’s what I’ve been hearing for a long time.”
In a statement released Monday, the mayor’s office said that Lightfoot “was present at the emergency room to offer support and condolences” but admitted that “emotions run high.”
“In a time of tragedy, emotions run high and that is to be expected. The mayor spoke to a range of officers that tragic night and sensed the overwhelming sentiment was about concern for their fallen colleagues,” it said.
“As the mayor stated … now is not the time for divisive and toxic rhetoric or reporting. This is a time for us to come together as a city. We have a common enemy and it is the conditions that breed the violence and the manifestations of violence, namely illegal guns, and gangs,” the statement added.