With dozens of cops lined up along Monroe Street near Millennium Park Monday, a passerby might have expected the arrival of a commander to rally the troops against an uptick of warm weather violence.
Instead, to the great anticipation of the 50 or so officers assembled, a 7-year-old girl from Louisiana who’s on a mission to hug police officers in all 50 states arrived to squeeze a few Chicago cops.
“I’m here to hug the police officers,” Rosalyn Baldwin told reporters gathered at the scene. “Because of what they’ve done for us … some people are, like, mean to them and I want to make them feel better.”
Rosalyn walked through a swarm of reporters, occasionally hugging one by accident, before finding her intended targets.
The bit of positive media comes on the heels of a warm weekend in which six people were killed and at least 37 others were wounded in shootings across the city.
Rosalyn, unable to hug mounted officers on their horses, blew them kisses.
Mounted Officer Robin Popelka was touched by the girl’s kindness.
“It’s wonderful, such a brave young little girl who cares so much to travel so far and share love with us and let us know that we are loved,” she said.
Rosalyn’s mother, Angie Baldwin, said Rosalyn began asking to go around the country to hug cops after she learned that six officers had been shot in Baton Rouge last year — three fatally — and saw protests against police roil parts of the country.
“She’d tell me, ‘just because there’s one bad apple in the bunch doesn’t mean the whole bunch needs to be thrown out,” Baldwin recalled.
“She said, ‘Momma, I prayed and God told me I need to hug all the officers,” Baldwin said.
“I said, “Can we maybe send some post cards?’ But then I realized I was lessening her mission and I shouldn’t do that.”
“I have to practice what I preach,” she said.
Rosalyn is one of four siblings. Her father, a pastor, could not make the journey and is back home in Hammond, La.
The trips around the country, partially funded by a GoFundMe campaign, are taking up such a large chunk of Rosalyn’s time that her mother is considering home schooling her.