Yes, mayor, we should be better than this

The political bickering and rancor in the wake of the killing of Ella French, the young Chicago cop gunned down in West Englewood, needs to be set aside.

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Chicago police officers and firefighters walk with the ambulance carrying the body of slain Officer Ella Frenchr as the ambulance drives up to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

Chicago police officers and firefighters walk with the ambulance carrying the body of slain Officer Ella Frenchr as the ambulance drives up to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

Tyler LaRiviere / Sun-Times

Chicago, your backside is showing.

At a time we should be united in our grief over the murder of Ella French, 29, a Chicago police officer, people are dishing dirt.

It’s disgusting to hear aldermen attacking each other and to read snarky tweets bashing police Supt. David Brown, knowing he is grieving his own mother’s death.

I agree with Mayor Lori Lightfoot: We should be better than this.

The public display of disrespect by the police officers who turned their backs on the mayor added even more distance to the gap between the Chicago Police Department and too many of our youth.

And right now no one should be fanning the flames of the contentious debate over “defunding” the police or pointing to rogue police officers to support an anti-police narrative.

In these dark days, what the world should see now is our empathy. Empathy for the families of the many children who have been fallen by gunfire. Empathy for the youth in this city who have lost their way. Empathy for police officers who lost a colleague who wanted to do good but was gunned down by a man who appears to have no good left in him.

Whether we are criticizing the officers or condemning the people committing these crimes, too many of us are so busy judging the group by the sins of the individuals, so much so that we neglect to appreciate the people who do the right thing.

Despite all of this, two things give me hope.

People living near 63rd and Bell, where the police shootings took place, put their own lives on the line when they confronted one of the suspects who had jumped a fence into their yard and held him until the police came. In the midst of chaos, the suspect got neither comfort nor a hiding place.

And it is a testament to French’s goodness that Anjanette Young, the Black woman who was the victim of a botched police raid in 2019, told the Sun-Times that French was “the only officer who showed her dignity and respect” during that awful incident.

Young had been forced to stand naked and handcuffed. She said French, who showed up after the raid, allowed her to get dressed in the privacy of her bedroom.

The city has lost a peacemaker.

French dared to put on the blue at a time when police officers are often damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

Unfortunately, at a time like this, the news media sometimes ask insensitive questions that lead to controversies that make it harder to wrap our arms around one another.

For instance, Eric Carter, the police department’s first deputy superintendent, apparently angered rank-and-file officers when he decided to skip the tradition of bagpipes being played when French’s body was delivered to the medical examiner’s office.

When former Supt. Garry McCarthy — who was fired over the delayed release of the video that showed former Officer Jason Van Dyke shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times — was asked whether Carter could regain the respect of the rank-and-file, he chose to vilify Carter.

“It would be a stretch to think they would want to get behind a leader who doesn’t respect something that sacred,” McCarthy told the Sun-Times.

Is this really the time for such rancor?

This isn’t that moment.

This is the moment to turn grieving into action by supporting strategies that can turn these war zones into safe zones.

Two brothers have been charged in connection with this heinous crime.

A third suspect is facing federal charges, accused of being the straw purchaser of the gun used in the killing.

Setting aside all of the rhetoric, this tragic incident shows there are still brave police officers out there doing their jobs.

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