Mayor Lori Lightfoot and her City Council allies on Friday rebuffed an effort by some aldermen to have Gov. J.B. Pritzker declare a state of emergency in the city, allowing the deployment of the Illinois National Guard to assist police.
The proposal was referred to committee for further discussion and debate on a 30-17 vote.
Lightfoot had labelled the effort “grandstanding” by the four alderman who called for the special Council meeting. Two of the four aldermen, Lightfoot has noted, are her most outspoken and knee-jerk City Council critics: Anthony Beale (9th) and Ray Lopez (15th). Lopez and Beale were joined by Ald. Anthony Napolitano (41st), whose Far Northwest Side ward is home to scores of police officers, and Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th), who represents Hyde Park and South Shore.
Before Friday’s vote, Beale hit back at Lightfoot’s claim he was merely seeking attention.
“This is not personal. This is not grandstanding,” he said. “This is a Hail Mary to save our community from the things that are happening every single day.”
When Lightfoot tried to have City Clerk Anna Valencia call roll, Beale said, “This is not a dictatorship, Madam President, this is a democracy.”
He said he does not want to see the National Guard patrolling the city but merely assisting overworked police officers.
“But there are certain areas in each and every one of our communities that deserve to be protected just like the gem of this city, which is downtown,” Beale said.
Lopez said there has been no “plan” going forward after the rioting and looting in the city in recent weeks.
“There have been no hearings by any committee regarding what that plan is. So I’m sorry if people feel offended, but this is where we are today,” Lopez said.
During a briefing after the meeting, Lightfoot said she welcomes a “fulsome” debate on whether to bring in the National Guard.
“I’m not going to hesitate to do everything I can to keep our residents safe … but the National Guard, despite my own view, is not a panacea, and what I’ve seen over the course of the summer, is that if not deployed in the right way, it can go disastrously wrong,” the mayor said.
She also pushed back against suggestions her administration is excluding aldermen from discussions about critical city policy.
“We are, on a regular basis, multiple times a week, our staff is engaged with aldermen and trying to helping them solve the nuts and bolts of challenges in their ward,” she said, adding, “Every alderman has my cellphone number. They don’t hesitate to reach out.”