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Video of brawl shows how timid cops have become, alderman says

The video tweeted by Ald. Ray Lopez shows an officer struggling to handcuff a man on the ground as two other officers hold at bay another man trying to help the man on the ground, egged on by the person recording the video.

Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th) speaks during a Chicago City Council meeting at City Hall, Wednesday morning, June 23, 2021.
Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th) speaks during a Chicago City Council meeting in June.
Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

One of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s most outspoken City Council critics is circulating a video of Chicago police officers struggling to detain a group of young men, saying it shows how timid cops have become for fear of being disciplined.

Ald. Ray Lopez (15th) said the video has been circulating on social media and was sent to him by an officer he trusts but refused to identify. Lopez said the incident happened last weekend in South Shore.

The video — a minute and 18 seconds long — appears to start in the middle of an incident and provides no context regarding what happened before. It shows a uniformed officer struggling to handcuff a young man on the ground. At the same time, two other officers attempt to hold at bay a man who is trying to assist the person on the ground, egged on by the narrator of the video.

The same two officers then tackle the helper to the ground while the first man gets away as the narrator chants, “Bail, bail, bail.” Two officers watch the man flee and opt not to pursue.

More young men join the melee. The video then shifts to another struggle involving two, then three officers and more young men throwing punches at and wrestling with police in a struggle that continues in a busy street.

Laughing, the narrator shooting the video chants, “Bust on his head. ... Bust on his a - - .” A pair of handcuffs drops to the ground.

“Somebody got to grab his cuffs. … We got cuffs. These are my cuffs,” the narrator shouts after picking up the handcuffs.

The video zooms in on a body camera that fell off one of the officers during the struggle.

“We got the camera. We got the camera on the ground,” the narrator says.

Lopez said the video — and another circulated last week showing a half-dozen young men swinging the pole of an uprooted stop sign at the windshield of a squad car at 31st and Wood streets — shows how “hesitant” officers have become “to do what they were trained to do” even after “being attacked.”

He noted that, toward the end of the video, one officer appears to reach for his Taser, only to be “pushed back by one of his colleagues.”

“Lori Lightfoot and Kim Foxx both share responsibility. You’ve got criminals who are emboldened because they know Kim Foxx won’t prosecute them, regardless of how much evidence police and citizens provide. And you’ve got Lori Lightfoot telling the police, ‘No foot pursuits. No vehicular pursuits.’ And the most recent, ‘No Tasing if a suspect is potentially armed because they might injure themselves falling on their own weapon,’ “ Lopez said.

“All of these policies are ridiculous in trying to arrest people who are trying to evade capture or, worse, fighting back against police officers. … The more policies like this are piled on, officers’ lives will continue to be in jeopardy. And at some point, it will turn fatal.”

Chicago police officers are “quite literally becoming sitting ducks” for fear of being second-guessed, the alderman said. Some people are now “emboldened” to take and circulate videos that “make a mockery of our police officers,” Lopez said. “It’s becoming a sport to get yourself on video fighting or attacking police officers.”

Foxx refused to comment on the video or the alderman’s interpretation of it. The mayor’s office had no immediate comment. A Chicago Police Department spokesman said CPD was aware of the video and the incident is “currently under investigation.”

Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara watched the video, then declared the officers involved overly timid.

Chicago Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara speak at a pro-police rally in Grant Park last year.
Chicago Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara speak at a pro-police rally in Grant Park last year.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

“They absolutely would have been justified throwing some haymakers and knocking some people out. … They absolutely would have been justified in punching at least two of ’em in the head just like they were getting punched in the head,” Catanzara said.

“That’s exactly what should have happened. It didn’t happen because they were afraid of what it would look like and what would happen to them if they did. … Thankfully, it wasn’t worse. They only ended up with a pair of handcuffs. Thank God, it wasn’t the officer’s weapon. But it very easily could have been.”

Catanzara has been at loggerheads with Lightfoot over all matters pertaining to law enforcement before negotiating an eight-year police contract with the mayor that ended the longest labor stalemate in Chicago history.

The FOP president didn’t hesitate when asked whom he holds responsible for how timid police officers have become, even after attacked.

“It’s the mayor and the superintendent and the first deputy. All three of ’em. It’s their policies that are allowing this to happen,” Catanzara said.

“All the sudden, she’s found God, it appears. But for the first 18 months, police were the problem. The superintendent making recommendations to strip officers at the drop of a hat because something goes viral — even if the officer isn’t wrong. Just the fact that it brings negative publicity. You have these officers, especially the younger ones, who are literally second-guessing themselves.”