Profane exchange: Lightfoot, chief City Council critic tussle over police tactics during looting

Profane exchange: Lightfoot, chief City Council critic tussle over police tactics during looting

Johnny Leland on Monday was cleaning up shards of glass and other trash left behind outside Star Subs, 7900 S Exchange Ave., after protests and looting the day before on Chicago’s South Side. | Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Ald. Ray Lopez said the mayor told him he was “full of s–t” when he demanded to know her plan to protect neighborhoods. His response? “I told her, ‘F–k you. You don’t know what’s going on.’”

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and one of her most outspoken City Council critics got into a profane exchange on Sunday during the second of two conference calls held to update aldermen on the city’s failed efforts to contain looting and violence in Chicago neighborhoods.

During the first call on Sunday morning, Ald. Ray Lopez (15th) said he asked Lightfoot directly what her plan was to protect the neighborhoods after sealing off a downtown area devastated by looting, vandalism and arsons on Saturday night.

According to Lopez, the mayor responded she had a plan for every neighborhood.

“I said, ‘I heard on the scanners that we have hundreds of people, caravans, driving in from Indiana and other places to come and terrorize our city,’” Lopez said.

“She rebuffed that. Disregarded me again. She said, ‘I’m dealing with issues. That’s an unsubstantiated rumor. You can chase that if you want, Ray.’”

By Sunday night, Lopez said neighborhoods were in chaos, and he believed his warnings about a “coordinated attempt to destabilize our city” had turned out to be right.

On a second conference call between the mayor and City Council, Lopez said several aldermen were “in tears” about the damage done to their communities.

“I asked her point-blank. I said, ‘I told you this was gonna happen in the morning. I warned you. What is our plan for the neighborhoods? How are we gonna stabilize the communities? We need a five-day plan. The assumption that this is all gonna go away because you’ve got a curfew is wrong. We need to stabilize the communities. I want an answer,’” Lopez recalled.

“When I was finished, she basically said, ‘OK. Next.’ and tried to move onto the next alderman without answering me. … I interrupted and said, ‘No. I demand an answer. I want to know what your plan is.’ At which point, she said I was full of s–t for saying that all she cared about was downtown and that she wasn’t prepared and that there’s nothing she could say intellectually that would make sense to me.’”

Lopez wasn’t having it.

“I told her, ‘F – – k you. You don’t know what’s going on. You need to come out from wherever you’re hiding and see what’s going on in the neighborhoods.’ I said, ‘You need to check your f—ing attitude.’ That’s not what this is about right now. … That just underscores and totally proves the fact that she had no plan for the neighborhoods.”

Two other aldermen confirmed Lopez’s version of the exchange.

At a news conference Monday, Lightfoot made no mention of the profanity-laden exchange.

Instead, she talked in general terms about the conference call with aldermen.

“We invited all the aldermen to participate. We had a briefing early [Sunday] morning. And then, we followed up to update them on what had transpired over the events of the day,” the mayor said.

“We heard a lot of feedback.”

During both calls, Lopez said Lightfoot asked aldermen to stand with her during one of the most difficult moments in Chicago history.

“I’m 100 percent for that. But I am not gonna be put down by this mayor or anybody else who thinks that what’s going on in my community is somehow being used as leverage for some political purpose,” the alderman said.

Lopez noted that 3 of the 19 people shot over the weekend were in his ward. Businesses in Englewood, Brighton Park and Back of the Yards were “ransacked in a cyclical and methodical manner multiple times-a-day,” he said.

“These are communities that have struggled … to attract brick-and-mortar businesses. How are we ever gonna get them back now when we can’t even protect them at the most needed time?” Lopez said.

“Pleading with her to understand this and have some empathy — I shouldn’t have to be called out as being bulls–t for that. That’s not bulls–t. This is life-and-death in the neighborhoods during an organized urban terrorist event. She refused to understand that because she doesn’t like the messenger. They voted for me. They voted for her. We have the same constituents. She needs to get her head out of her ass and start recognizing that fact.”

The profane exchange with Lopez wasn’t the only emotional moment during Sunday’s conference call.

Ald. Susan Sadlowski-Garza (10th), Lightfoot’s handpicked Workforce Development Committee chairman, was in tears as she talked about having never in her lifetime seen businesses burned, police cars torched and people shooting right before her eyes.

And an emotional Budget Committee Chairman Pat Dowell (3rd) said the damage done by looters had her Near South Side Ward that includes Bronzeville back five years.

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