Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., denied Friday that his staff invited 13 Chicago police officers to lounge around his burglarized office, pushing back at a police union claim while ridiculing President Donald Trump’s assertion he could end bigotry “quickly” and “easily.”
Rush said he did not invite the police to hang out at his office and, noting they used his office microwave to make popcorn during their hours-long stay, labeled the officers the “popcorn police.”
Rush made his comments in a CNN interview a day after Rush and Mayor Lori Lightfoot, in a joint news conference, showed security camera footage of the police — including three white shirt supervisors — drinking coffee and napping at his campaign office at 5401 S. Wentworth Ave. Rush and Lightfoot said the police were there as looters were breaking into nearby stores. One frame showed an empty popcorn bag.
“Once again, the Chicago Police Department has revealed its true nature, true character. They entered my office without being invited. They, in the midst of looting and rioting in the midst of their fellow officers being pummeled, and bricks and bottles being thrown at them all across the city in those tumultuous days, here they are, these 13 officers decided they were going to abandon their posts and relax in my office,” Rush said.
According to a timeline provided to the Chicago Sun-Times by Rush’s office, the security alarm went off at 9:48 p.m. Sunday, May 31, after a window in the office was broken. Police entered at 12:48 a.m. Monday, June 1, and left about 4:30 a.m., apparently unaware, or not caring, that every move they were making was being recorded.
At City Hall Thursday with Rush, Lightfoot promised to identify the 13 officers, asking them to step forward. The police department is conducting an internal investigation.
Shortly after the news conference, Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara said Rush’s staff told police to “make themselves at home.” Trump had congratulated Catanzara in a tweet when he became the officer became FOP president in May.
Chicago GOP Chair Steve Boulton said in a statement, “We strongly question whether officers entered without invitation or acted without authorization.”
Rush spokesman Jeremy Edwards said, “Nobody from Congressman Rush’s staff invited the police in, and they certainly did not tell them to make themselves at home.” He also noted if police needed a break, a police station was nearby. The Wentworth District station is at 5101 S. Wentworth.
Trump takes aim again at Chicago
On May 31 in Chicago, 18 people were killed as the city grappled with both peaceful protests and looting after the death of George Floyd, who’d been pinned down by a white Minneapolis police officer with a knee to his neck. The tally was the most homicides in one day in Chicago in six decades, according to the University of Chicago Crime Lab.
Trump took note of that deadly day in Chicago during his remarks Thursday in Dallas, where he decried “radical efforts to defund, dismantle and disband the police.”
Since his 2016 campaign, Trump has been bashing Democrat-led Chicago as the city struggles with violent crime and shootings. Trump has told often a never proven story that he once met a Chicago police officer who told him how to swiftly solve crime in the city.
Against that backdrop, in Dallas, Trump said, “They’ve taken a lot of the police protection away in Chicago, and they have great, great police in Chicago. I know Chicago very well, but they’re not allowed to do what they can do better than anybody. They could do the job very easily.
“… We’ll make no progress and heal no wounds by falsely labeling tens of millions of decent Americans as racists or bigots. We have to get everybody together. ... And we’ll do that. We’ll do it. I think we’re going to do it very easily. It’ll go quickly and it’ll go — it’ll go very easily.”
Rush, asked on CNN to react to Trump’s claim of a potential quick fix, lambasted the president as being “in the throes of some sort of insanity.”
Rush, who has spent more than 50 years dealing with chronic police misconduct issues in Chicago, said Trump “is a person who has lost his sense of reality.”
When it comes to problems with police brutality, Rush said, “There is no quick and easy fix.”