Mayor Lori Lightfoot is fed up.
After seeing throngs of people enjoying a spring day at the lakefront and 606 trail despite her instructions to stay home to stop the spread of the coronavirus, she reached her breaking point Thursday.
Now, the lakefront is closed, along with all its parks and beaches, the 606 is closed, and Millennium Park and the downtown Riverwalk are locked down indefinitely.
It’s no joke: barricades are up, and cops are prowling the streets, turning the rare jogger or dog walker away. Warnings will be issued, and then citations that carry the possibility of a $500 fine to those who disobey. Repeat offenders could even face arrest, police said.
Most residents are now heeding the warning, and the weather is helping: ever since that sunny, 60-degree Wednesday, it’s been much colder and rainy. For most, it’s not even nice enough for a walk around the block.
Now that Chicagoans have nothing to do but stay inside and scroll social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Reddit, memes that only locals would appreciate are inevitably cropping up.
The latest trend pokes fun at the harsh new reality by photoshopping a stony-faced Lightfoot blocking entrance to the outdoor spaces her administration has closed.
In one photoshopped image, Lightfoot stands in front of police barricades blocking the lakefront trail from rule-breakers, emitting the vibe of a middle school principal who just walked into a classroom that’s gone off the rails.
In another, the same photo of Lightfoot is pasted on a stairway leading up to the lakefront trail (taken by Sun-Times photographer Ashlee Rezin Garcia) as a woman jogs by. This time, the photo of Lightfoot was flipped so she appears to be glaring at the runner.
Some versions are less realistic: in another, Lightfoot is standing on top of a police car in a freeze-frame image from Fox 32 Chicago’s newscast.
And in another equally funny image, she’s peering down from her perch on top of a traffic light.
The mastermind behind the now-viral meme is 27-year-old Danny Martinez, who originally posted the photos on Facebook, captioned “Got da Lightfoot OUT HERE out here enforcing.” That post, published Thursday, had over 23,000 shares by Friday afternoon. Inspiration struck the Lincolnwood resident when he was reading the news online.
“Well, I always loved memes,” Martinez told the Chicago Sun-Times. “Even though you’re having a bad day, memes can make you not have a bad day.
“I don’t do memes often … [but] it was hard not to when I saw all the pictures of the lakefront closed and I thought, ‘wouldn’t it be funny if the mayor was right there?’ And I was like, ‘let’s see how that looks!’”
Martinez hoped to get a laugh from his Facebook friends, but that’s about it.
“I didn’t think it was going to blow up, but I just posted it on my page anyway,” he said. “I made it public, and then the next thing you know it just started going viral.”
Now that the post is getting attention, Martinez said he hopes it will make people laugh, and also reconsider the seriousness of the city’s stay-at-home order.
“Part of the reason I did it is to spread awareness, like, ‘Yo, you guys need to stay inside, this is not a joke.’ But at the same time, bring some humor to the chaos that’s going on,” he said.
Martinez created an Instagram account to highlight his series. He said the project will help keep him busy while he stays home.
“If it just puts a smile on people’s faces during this time, then I guess my mission was complete,” he said.
The mayor, who is likely a little busy right now, did not return requests for comment.