While this one is not squarely on Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, she gets the flak, along with Chicago Police Department brass, for the dishonorable treatment of a fallen police officer and her comrades-in-arms.
On August 7, Chicago Police Officer Ella French and her partner conducted an evening traffic stop in the notorious Englewood District. This is an area that is rife with gang rivalries and drive-by shootings. There were three people in the stopped automobile, and one (or more) of them opened fire on Officer French and her partner. French died at the scene, her partner is in the hospital, fighting for his life.
French, 29, had been a CPD Officer since 2018. She was the fifth woman to die in the line of duty in CPD history, and the first in 20 years.
From the Chicago Sun-Times:
Chicago police officers upset with Mayor Lori Lightfoot over her reform policies are also directing their anger at the Chicago Police Department’s second-in-command.
First Deputy Police Supt. Eric Carter infuriated officers gathered Saturday night at the Cook County medical examiner’s office to give their slain colleague, Ella French, a final send-off.
Ignoring a sacred ritual, Carter impatiently declared: “We don’t have 20 minutes for this s—.” He demanded the Chicago Fire Department ambulance bearing French’s body be taken directly into the medical examiner’s office, skipping the Emerald Society’s traditional playing of bagpipes.
“We’re not waiting on the bagpipes. Go ahead and get the vehicle inside,” Carter is heard saying on a recording.
“Take it all the way inside. Do not stop.”
Let me just say that we have been inundated with empty symbolism for political gain for so long, that most of us fail to understand the weight of true symbolism and ritual acts, and why they are important. It seems Deputy Supt. Carter failed to understand this weight.
Former Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said the time-honored ritual tied to the line-of-duty death of a Chicago police officer is “sacred.” For the department’s second-in-command to ignore it is not only a sacrilege, it’s an “inexcusable” affront to the rank-and-file officers Carter is assigned to lead, he said.
“When Cliff Lewis got killed and his fiancée came to the hospital, I took her into another room and I sat her down and explained to her what had occurred. And she completely lost it. When I say lost it, she was basically rolling around on the floor,” McCarthy said Tuesday.
“You know what I did? I was on the ER floor of Christ Hospital rolling around with her trying to hold onto her and comfort her. The sensitivity of an officer being killed. The handling of the family. The handling of the body. It’s kind of sacred.”
Asked about Carter ordering the process to be sped up, McCarthy said, “There’s always enough time. Let’s put it that way. If we had to wait two or three days, I would have done it.”
Local WTTW Reporter Heather Cherone tweeted:
Mayor Lori Lightfoot says the decision not to allow the honor guard/bagpipes at the morgue after the shooting death of Officer Ella French was due to COVID-19 protocols set by the medical examiner, and it was not a decision made by First Deputy Eric Carter.
— Heather Cherone (@HeatherCherone) August 11, 2021
Really? COVID protocols? This, after an entire weekend of millions of people on top of each other for the music festival Lallapalooza. But a bagpipe processional would be against protocols? Lightfoot continues to lose credibility in large part due to incredulous comments like this one.
Officers also have fresh anger toward the Mayor, adding to the fomenting pot of disdain she has already been served by the rank and file.
Lightfoot is facing her own political backlash after a Saturday night traffic stop in West Englewood left French dead and her partner fighting for his life after being shot by one of the men in the stopped car.
The mayor was told repeatedly that the wounded officer’s father, a retired Chicago police officer himself, didn’t want her on the floor of the University of Chicago Medical Center where his son was being treated in the intensive care unit. But Lightfoot ignored his wishes and got a tongue-lashing from the father.
Shortly after, Lightfoot walked out into the hallway and suffered a final indignity. Officers gathered to pray for French and her wounded partner turned their backs on the mayor as she approached.