Across the country, cities have been announcing they are defunding their police departments, but not in Chicago. Defunding the police would hurt the careers and economic status of Black police officers, according to Mayor Lori Lightfoot. Despite calls from George Floyd protesters to de-fund the city’s police department and shift the money to social services, Lightfoot said she has no plans to do so.
“In talking to people all over the city about the events of this week, what I’ve heard from the people in neighborhoods is that they want more police protection, not less,” Lightfoot said, according to NBC.
“I think in this time where people are feeling physically insecure it would dishonor those real expressions to be talking about reducing the amount of safety that we’re going to be bringing to neighborhoods,” Lightfoot said.
She added that “it’s not an either or.”
“Even in this difficult time where we’ve got a substantial hole for our budget in 2020 and an even bigger one for 2021, we are not going to be abandoning our values,” Lightfoot said.
Lightfoot, the first Black woman and the first lesbian to win the office, said defunding the police would hurt the Black community.
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“When I hear this issue around defunding, I hear, ‘We don’t have enough resources in communities of color, and you spend way too much on the police.’ I agree with that piece. But let’s break down the practicalities of what defunding means. In our police department, about 90 percent of the budget is personnel. When you talk about defunding, you’re talking about getting rid of officers,” she told The New York Times. “Most of our diversity lies in the junior officers. So when you’re talking about defunding the police, you’re talking about doing it in a context of a collective-bargaining agreement that requires you to go in reverse seniority, which means you’re getting rid of the younger officers. Which means you’re getting rid of Black and brown people. Which means you are eliminating one of the few tools that the city has to create middle-class incomes for Black and brown folks. Nobody talks about that in the discussion to defund the police.”
Still, Lightfoot has called for an independent investigation into the police department’s response to recent protests in the city.
“Since the onset of these events, Mayor Lightfoot and Superintendent (David) Brown have been unequivocally resolute that police misconduct of any kind will not be tolerated and those found committing wrongdoing will be held fully accountable,” her office said in a statement. “Just as the overwhelming majority of protests remained peaceful this week, the vast majority of officers followed their training and supervisor direction during these difficult times. Nonetheless, we will continue to vigorously investigate all reports of excessive force arising from this week.”
Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 72: Jamarlin Martin Part 2. J. Edgar Hoover, the first director of the FBI, may not be around but his energy is present in new Black politics.FBI agents and informants were used to weaken Marcus Garvey, the Nation of Islam and the Black Panthers — in many cases for money and career advancement. How could this energy metastasize into the “New Blacks” politics in 2020? Jamarlin goes solo to discuss who is doing the trading and what is being traded to weaken the aggregate Black political position.
Lightfoot discussed the Chicago Police Department’s brutal legacy with the city’s Black community in a New York Times interview.
“What I’ve learned is that the cultural dysfunction in the police department is so deep that it’s going to take enormous effort to disrupt it…Changing the police contracts is something we wouldn’t have conceived trying to spend political capital on, but this moment has given us an opening to break apart these contracts — for the first time in the history of collective bargaining in the city — that have caused so much harm and left us with a police department that is culturally bereft.”