chicago protests

Chicago Mayor Says She Won't De-Fund Police Amid Calls From Protesters

Protesters demanding for justice for George Floyd have called for funds to be shifted from police departments to other city and social services

Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks during a news conference at Chicago City Hall

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she doesn't plan to de-fund the city's police department despite calls from protesters to do so.

"In talking to people all over the city about the events of this week, what I've heard from the people in neighborhoods is that they want more police protection, not less," Lightfoot said.

Protesters demanding for justice for George Floyd have called for funds to be shifted from police departments to other city and social services.

"I think in this time where people are feeling physically insecure it would dishonor those real expressions to be talking about reducing the amount of safety that we're going to be bringing to neighborhoods," Lightfoot said Friday.

She added that "it's not an either or."

"Even in this difficult time where we've got a substantial hole for our budget in 2020 and an even bigger one for 2021, we are not going to be abandoning our values," Lightfoot said.

At the same time, Lightfoot has called for an independent investigation into the police department's response to recent protests and unrest in the city.

"Since the onset of these events, Mayor Lightfoot and Superintendent [David] Brown have been unequivocally resolute that police misconduct of any kind will not be tolerated and those found committing wrongdoing will be held fully accountable," her office said in a statement. "Just as the overwhelming majority of protests remained peaceful this week, the vast majority of officers followed their training and supervisor direction during these difficult times. Nonetheless, we will continue to vigorously investigate all reports of excessive force arising from this week."

Lightfoot said Friday that she believed a Chicago police officer who was caught on camera flipping off protesters should be fired.

"It won't be tolerated," Lightfoot said at a news conference when asked about the incident, as well as reports of officers concealing their badge numbers while on the job at the ongoing demonstrations across the city. "We are actively at work identifying the officers who are responsible for that."

"This is going to be the superintendent's call ultimately, but in my view, they forfeited their right to be Chicago police officers," she said.

The Chicago Police Department tweeted that it had opened an investigation into the incident.

"CPD strives to treat all individuals our officers encounter with dignity & respect. We do not tolerate misconduct of any kind, & have opened an investigation into this incident," the tweet reads.

When pressed on the topic Friday, Lightfoot said she didn't want to paint officers with "such a broad brush."

"I think what we need to be clear about is context. The Chicago Police Department has 13,400 sworn officers. Unfortunately we've seen some, and I think a few who have dishonored their badge, and they will be dealt with accordingly," she said. "But the vast majority of officers that are out there are doing their job the right way. They're engaged in constitutional policing, they've leaned into their training."

'So I don't want to paint with such a broad brush," Lightfoot continued, likening the situation to some in the demonstrations who have destroyed property or resorted to violence. "Just as we've seen, unfortunately, some people in the crowds of protesters act in a way that is violent and criminal. We can't say that the vast majority of protesters are somehow untoward. They're not."

The city's Civilian Office of Police Accountability said as of Thursday afternoon, it had received at least 258 complaints against officers since Friday. Those complaints included allegations of excessive force, denial of counsel, improper search and seizure and others, COPA's Chief Administrator Sydney Roberts said.

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