They turned away and gave her their backs.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot was given the cold shoulder by Chicago Police Department rank-and-file about midnight Saturday at the University of Chicago Medical Center when she approached them on the seventh floor as they grappled with the shootings of two fellow officers.
Officer Ella French was shot and killed during a traffic stop Saturday night in West Englewood, while her partner continues to fight for his life at the hospital. Three people are in custody.
Just moments before about 30 officers turned their backs on the mayor, Lightfoot tried to talk to the male officer’s father, who himself is a retired Chicago police officer. He clearly wanted nothing to do with Lightfoot, according to two sources who were there.
The father excoriated the mayor and blamed her for what had happened. One source said Lightfoot handled herself well as the father yelled at her. She listened and treated him with respect.
It was then suggested that Lightfoot say a few words to nearby grieving officers, but as she approached, they all walked away from her and to the other side of a bank of chairs — and turned their backs, the sources said.
“They did the about-face — it looked like it had been choreographed,” said one of the sources present, calling it “astounding.”
Lightfoot appeared shaken, according to one source. Then she went downstairs to speak to reporters at a news conference about the shooting.
“The police officers’ decision to turn their backs on the mayor while waiting with the family on the 7th floor was significant,” FOP President John Catanzara told me in an interview.
“Turning their backs on the mayor was an excellent example of how the hundreds of police officers felt waiting outside the hospital,” Catanzara said.
Officers no longer support Lightfoot’s leadership, Catanzara said.
“They have had enough and are no longer going to remain silent anymore.”
In a statement released Monday afternoon, the mayor’s office said in part: “The mayor was present at the emergency room to offer support and condolences to the families involved and the hundreds of line officers and exempts who were there, which she did. In a time of tragedy, emotions run high and that is to be expected. The mayor spoke to a range of officers that tragic night and sensed the overwhelming sentiment was about concern for their fallen colleagues.
“As the mayor stated . . . now is not the time for divisive and toxic rhetoric or reporting. This is a time for us to come together as a city. We have a common enemy and it is the conditions that breed the violence and the manifestations of violence, namely illegal guns, and gangs.”