Officials are investigating after video taken from surveillance footage at a congressman’s campaign office in Chicago showed police officers relaxing and napping as looters targeted shops nearby.
At a news conference with Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush said he got a call May 31 telling him his office had been burglarized. When he and his staff members checked surveillance footage, they found “eight or more police officers lounging in my office as … I assume looters were breaking in stores in the shopping center where my office is located at.”
Rush said the video showed what appeared to be at least three supervisors among the officers. Some of them appeared to be napping or playing with their phones.
"They even had the unmitigated gall to go and make coffee for themselves and some popcorn -- my popcorn -- in my microwave while looters were tearing apart businesses within their sight, within their reach," Rush said.
"They were in the mode of relaxation and they did not care about what was happening to businesspeople, to this city. They didn't care. They absolutely didn't care."
Lightfoot apologized to Rush on Thursday at a news conference, saying the incident showed "profound disrespect."
"It's a personal embarrassment to me and I'm sorry that you and your staff even had to deal with this incredible indignity," she said.
She called for police to take action against the officers, some of whom she said had been tentatively identified.
"Public safety cannot be a commodity that is only available to the wealthy and connected," she said Thursday. "Public safety must be a reality everywhere -- everywhere -- in every neighborhood of our city. Period. When you swear an oath to serve and protect, you are a Chicago police officer, not a police officer for only certain neighborhoods and only at certain times."
However, The Chicago Tribune reported that Lightfoot stopped short of calling for the officers to be fired.
The incident comes as demonstrators take to the streets nationwide to protest racism and police violence following the death of George Floyd. The 46-year-old was pronounced dead on Memorial Day after video showed then-Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin holding his knee to Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes as Floyd pleaded for air.
“When a black man dies in the street with a white police officer’s knee on his neck, it is murder but it is also profoundly unjust,” Lightfoot said Thursday. “Equally unacceptable is when there is looting and brazen criminal conduct … and it really is the height of injustice when police are deployed, given a mission and they fail to act.”
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