There are good cops and then there are bad cops. Thirteen police officers took refuge from the riots going on nearby in an office. They popped some popcorn, made coffee, some took naps, while stores within sight were being looted and burned.
Their refuge was the office of Congressman Bobby Rush, a major critic of the Chicago police. The office had been burglarized earlier.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot held a press conference with Rush, showing video of the lounging officers.
Congressman Rush and Mayor Lightfoot both went on cable news Thursday night to express outrage.
“These are absolutely a bunch of cowards in blue uniforms,” Rush said.
“It’s really quite mindboggling and it’s almost impossible to believe that it’s true, but yet we have five hours of video tape documenting exactly what happened,” Mayor Lightfoot said. “It is one of the most disgraceful, disrespectful things that I have ever seen and we are absolutely not going to tolerate it.”
There’s a whiff of something rotten coming from the mayor and Rep. Rush. You want “mindboggling,” your honor? You’re asking these officers to go out and risk their lives while your supporters in Black Lives Matter call for their death.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot and CPD Superintendent David Brown have also expressed anger while the head of the police union says there is more to the story.
“This kind of conduct means, if you sleep during a riot, what do you do on a regular shift when there’s no riot?” Brown wondered.
She offered an apology on behalf of the city, saying those officers have done incredible harm, including confirming the perception that many have on the South Side that police simply did not care that minority communities were being looted.
So which is it? Police don’t care or they want to kill all black people? I guess it depends on the day of the week, how many rioters are in the streets, and how many cameras are present to capture politicians preening.
“The same time these 13 officers were popping popcorn, taking a nap, relaxing inside this office, I was standing shoulder to shoulder on State Street as we got pounded by rocks from rioters,” said First Deputy Supt. Anthony Riccio.
“What makes you comfortable enough that supervisors won’t hold you accountable? That means sergeants, lieutenants, commanders, chiefs, deputy chiefs need to step up or step out,” Brown said. “I’m not playing.”
The police officers involved in this incident weren’t doing their job. Admittedly, you or I might not want to charge into a bunch of rioters and try to restore order, especially if I’m outnumbered 10 to 1. But that’s what these guys get paid for — at least, in the abstract. Each situation is different and perhaps those 13 officers determined there were too many armed and dangerous individuals to confront.
After all, can you imagine the ruckus if those cops had intervened and had been forced to shoot a rioter? The entire city would have been in flames. So the question to Lightfoot and Rush is, what did you expect those cops to do? Outnumbered, probably outgunned, with people possessed of a mob mentality where normal moral strictures against attacking police are suppressed — the chances of the officers being forced to draw their weapons in that situation were great.
Any officer that shot a rioter in that city during that time would have been charged with first-degree murder. Nothing less would satisfy the mob.
If a rioter had been shot, that press conference with Lightfoot and Rush would not have been about scoring political points by haranguing the police. It would have been about eliminating the police department.
Update June 13, 2020:
Chicago police have claimed that the entire situation was a set-up. The Second City Cop blog has claimed that the police were part of an “assigned detail.” Police say they were ordered to protect Rush’s office in a political set up to enable Mayor Lightfoot to distract from her actions during the riots.
Rush’s office provided a timeline to the Chicago Sun-Times, claiming that the security alarm in his office went off at 9:48 p.m. on Sunday, May 31, after a window was broken. Police entered at 12:48 a.m. on Monday, June 1, and left about 4:30 a.m.