Any remaining bad blood between Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., and Mayor Lori Lightfoot disappeared Thursday at a joint news conference to reveal video evidence of Chicago police officers lounging around Rush’s campaign office while nearby stores were being looted in the wake of the death of George Floyd.
The surveillance pictures of the burglarized office, 5401 S. Wentworth Ave., suggest yet another story about the chronic problem in Chicago of police misconduct.
The pictures from late Sunday, May 31, showed at least 13 police drinking coffee, popping popcorn and sleeping on a couch. While the Chicago Police Department has not released the video’s timeline, looting was taking place that night, Lightfoot said.
Which brings me to how Lightfoot and Rush chose to open the press event where they released the shocking images of the police displaying seeming flagrant indifference.
Lightfoot and Rush have a history.
And they wanted to make it right at a time when our beloved city is facing the biggest challenges in our lifetimes.
Floyd died after a white Minneapolis cop pinned him down with a knee to his neck, sparking unrest in Chicago and across the nation. It came on as the city was already struggling to deal with the health and economic meltdown from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rush did not endorse Lightfoot for mayor. He first backed Bill Daley, the brother and son of former Chicago mayors, and in the runoff supported Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.
During the runoff, Rush used racially incendiary language in attacking Lightfoot, saying “the blood of the next young black man or black woman who is killed by the police” would be on the hands of Lightfoot voters if she won the election.
Rush, who represents a district anchored on the South Side, waited until June 2019, to apologize for the nasty language. The two never became close.
“We haven’t always agreed on every issue,” Lightfoot said. “But today, we’re in total alignment in our righteous anger and our steadfast determination. And I want to make sure that that’s very clear. What I know of Congressman Rush is this: He has committed his life to calling out and fighting against injustice.
“And this presents exactly one of those moments — and Congressman, I want to personally thank you. And I commit to being your partner and making sure that we move forward together and use this moment as an opportunity to speak hard truths to heal what is broken in our city.
“And that we join you on your lifelong fight for justice, and particularly for black and brown people in our city.”
Lightfoot was referencing how for Rush, the issue of police misconduct and white brutality toward African Americans has been a constant through his long career.
Back in the day, before jumping into electoral politics, Rush was a co-founder of the militant Illinois Black Panther Party.
The other leader was Fred Hampton. Hampton died on Dec. 4, 1969, murdered by police working for Cook County State’s Attorney Edward Hanrahan during a raid on a West Loop apartment.
At first the cops made it look like they were defending themselves. Not true. It took some time to set the record straight. The police fired 99 shots while the Panthers shot twice.
Since 2018, Rush has pushed for a federal anti-lynching bill. The House passed his Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act, named after the 14-year-old black youth from Chicago’s South Side who, on a visit to Mississippi, was kidnapped and savagely murdered by white men. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., blocked a Senate vote on his bill last week.
Lightfoot is getting heat from aldermen dealing with destroyed businesses in their wards. Rush tried to cool things down for her.
Said Rush, “Some two years ago, I did not give this mayor the benefit of the doubt.”
Now, he said, there is no doubt.
Said Rush, “This is the era of Lori Lightfoot.”