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Socialist aldermen fire back at colleagues who said they have ‘blood on their hands’ for Ella French death

“The killing of anybody is wrong. ... The problem is, when the police do it, it’s overlooked. But when they get killed, it takes two-point-five-seconds to find and catch somebody,” said Ald. Jeanette Taylor.

Chicago City Council, meeting on May 29, 2019.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot presides over her first Chicago City Council meeting at City Hall, Wednesday morning, May 29, 2019.
Sun-Times file

Socialist aldermen fired back Tuesday against colleagues’ accusations that their “defund and disrespect movement” set the stage for “brazen acts of violence against police officers,” including the weekend slaying of Officer Ella French.

“The killing of anybody is wrong. That’s No. 1. The problem is, when the police do it, it’s overlooked. But, when they get killed, it takes two-point-five seconds to find and catch somebody,” said always outspoken Ald. Jeanette Taylor (20th).

“In the history of … people being murdered by the cops, only two cops in the entire country have been indicted. That’s Laquan McDonald’s killer and George Floyd’s. What does that say about this system? Even when we have it on video — even when we have all the witnesses.

“This is not one against the other. This is about, if you take a life, you deserve to get caught. That’s not what happens when you kill everyday folks.”

What set Taylor off were the remarks of two aldermen who are among the City Council’s staunchest defenders of Chicago police officers: Anthony Napolitano (41st) and Nick Sposato (38th).

In arguing that Mayor Lori Lightfoot did not deserve the cold shoulder she got from rank-and-file police officers at the University of Chicago Hospital or the tongue lashing that the retired police officer father of French’s critically-injured partner gave her, both aldermen pointed the finger at their socialist and progressive colleagues in the City Council.

“This blood is on their hands without a doubt. They’re the ones who created this whole anti-police movement that has made these brazen acts of violence against police officers [possible]. ... this is created by them. This whole defund and disrespect movement that they have started. These pieces of s--t are the ones that created this and talk anti-police,” Napolitano said.

Sposato agreed “some of the Commies are just constantly bashing the police and saying bad things about ’em and want to defund ’em.”

A police officer leaves flowers at the memorial erected to honor Officer Ella French. A vigil was held at the memorial Monday, Aug. 9, 2021.
A police officer leaves flowers at the memorial erected to honor Officer Ella French. A vigil was held at the memorial Monday night.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Taylor was beyond furious.

“Who are the socialists and the progressive aldermen in the City Council? They’re Black and Brown. He’s racist all day long for saying some crap like that,” Taylor said of Napolitano.

Taylor said her ward and Napolitano’s are a “tale of two cities.” She challenged him to see for himself by making a temporary move from the Far Northwest Side ward to her impoverished South Side ward. He wouldn’t last a week, she said.

“Come and be at a job where he makes $10-an-hour, his rent is $800 and he don’t pay his lights or gas or he can’t buy his kids some shoes because he’s trying to pay his rent. His privilege allows him to say stuff like that,” Taylor said.

“Try trying on this Black skin.. ... Walk around and be me for a day. … I dare him to say the blood is on our hands. No. The blood is on the people who pulled the trigger.”

She added, “Jon Burge. … What is his excuse for that?” Taylor was referring to the notorious CPD commander accused of using torture to extract false confessions. “Laquan McDonald, Rekia Boyd. Where’s the moral there?”

“This ain’t about anti-police. This is about people who have power and abuse it. Don’t act like police haven’t abused their power. Defund talks about stop putting so much money in the police because it does not make our community safe.”

Chicago police work the scene where Officer Ella French was fatally shot and Officer Carlos Yanez Jr. was critically wounded earlier this month. Both were shot during a traffic stop in the 6300 block of South Bell Avenue in West Englewood on Saturday, Aug. 7, 2021.
Chicago police work the scene where two police officers where shot during a traffic stop in the 6300 block of South Bell Avenue in West Englewood on Saturday.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th), chairman of the Socialist Caucus, dismissed Napolitano’s claim that socialist and progressive aldermen have “blood on their hands.”

“Most Chicagoans — reasonable Chicagoans — would reject it as unhinged and not connected to reality,” Ramirez-Rosa said.

Ramirez-Rosa noted the “vast majority” of federal coronavirus relief funds went toward police payroll. He also pointed to $500 million in police misconduct settlements the city has shelled out over the last decade and to the tentative agreement with the Fraternal Order of Police that will give rank-and-file officers a 20% raise over eight years.

“I don’t think there’s a city hall that does more to support its police than the city of Chicago. To say that there’s not enough support for police is pretty asinine,” he said.

“Do they want people to wrap themselves in a Blue Lives Matter flag and spout out empty platitudes? We need real solutions in this moment. Now’s not the time to be engaging in right-wing talking points that are just red meat for your base. It’s about coming together as a city to figure out, how do we solve the crisis that we’re in?”

Socialist Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th) said the West Englewood traffic stop that left French dead and her partner fighting for his life is a tragedy that requires all elected officials to stop playing the blame game and get to work.

“We have $1.9 billion in federal funds that need to released for mental health. How many more lives do we need to lose for us to change direction, change strategies, work together and collaboratively to provide solutions that Chicaogans need and deserve?” Sigcho-Lopez said Tuesday.

“We have to provide solutions that go to the root causes of violence. It is irresponsible to continue this finger-pointing and worse, taking advantage of a tragedy like this to push any agenda. This finger-pointing is … inflammatory. Chicagoans deserve better than that.”