Mayor Lori Lightfoot clashed with Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th) Wednesday — and ruled him out of order — during debate on a resolution honoring the life of 13-year-old Adam Toledo.
“What our community demands and deserves is more than prayers or platitudes, but action Mayor Lightfoot,” Sigcho-Lopez told the mayor.
“We have a bill right now and you know this very well … in the Committee on Public Safety” empowering a civilian oversight panel to hire and fire the police superintendent and be the final arbiter on disputes over police policy.
Lightfoot banged the gavel and interrupted Sigcho-Lopez at the mere mention of a civilian oversight ordinance she promised to deliver in her first 100 days in office.
“Sir, you are now out of order. You are out of order. … Mister clerk, please move on,” the mayor said.
Sigcho-Lopez’s microphone was promptly cut off as he continued to speak from the Council floor. That’s a tactic Mayor Richard J. Daley’s administration famously used to silence independent Ald. Dick Simpson (44th) nearly 50 years ago.
“Sir, out of respect for the chamber, lower your voices. We are proceeding with business,” Lightfoot admonished aldermen as Sigcho-Lopez continued to speak while aldermen talked to each other, apparently prompted by the clash.
Wednesday’s brief dust-up happened after the mayor agreed to suspend the rules and allow Little Village Ald. Mike Rodriguez (22nd) to debate a resolution that was only being introduced, not voted on.
Debate is supposed to be limited to matters the Council is voting on, but Lightfoot allowed it because of the sensitivity of the matter.
Toledo was shot and killed by a Chicago police officer summoned to the area by a Shot Spotter in the early morning hours of March 29. Toledo fled on foot and was chased by the officer into an alley.
Video released by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability last week appeared to show Toledo with both hands in the air after tossing the gun he was carrying behind a fence a split second before he was shot in the chest.
“Ordinarily, this is simply referring ordinary matters to committee. This is not really the proper place to speak to this. You can certainly speak to it during the committee process,” Lightfoot said.
Rodriguez said he understood, but “given the recency and the tragic nature of this occurrence, I just wanted to briefly speak to this resolution. It’ll be under a minute. … I just want to raise up the situation as one that has been internationally recognized.”
When Lightfoot told him to keep it brief, Rodriguez read from the resolution expressing the City Council’s “grief and sorrow” at the police shooting that culminated in Toledo’s death.
“As a city, we need time to grieve, to mourn and to heal together. But we also need to re-imagine, re-invent and reform the societal factors and pressures that led to losing one of our sons far too soon,” Rodriguez said, reading from the resolution.
“We need to do the work for Adam and for all of Brown and Black boys to reform our police department and commit to substantive, sustained investments in our communities to create real futures for young people of color across our city. … While we rightly demand accountability for Adam’s death through an open, transparent, just and expedient investigation, we also want everyone to remember and celebrate Adam’s life … as a 13-year-old child whose life was taken much too soon.”
Lightfoot agreed with the tone of the resolution.
“We all need to pray for the Toledo family as we continue giving them support,” the mayor said.
Lightfoot then agreed to recognize Sigcho-Lopez, even as she warned, “Folks, we’re not gonna start a precedent here of speaking on matters that are simply being introduced. … So, Alderman Sigcho-Lopez, I will give you a brief moment to speak. Brief, sir.”
Sigcho-Lopez promised not to take long. But he made the mayor regret the exception she had just made.