After receiving much negative response, the Human Rights Campaign took down a tweet praising Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s appearance at the Democratic National Convention.
Lightfoot, who is a lesbian, is the first Black woman and first member of the LGBTQ+ community to be mayor of Chicago, the nation’s third-largest city. She has been under fire for her handling of policing in the city, especially during protests against racism and police brutality. Antiracism activists say she is endorsing and enabling brutality, while Donald Trump and others on the right say she has enabled lawbreaking.
HRC was responding primarily to the former when it took down the original tweet, which said, “It’s great to see @LoriLightfoot — the nation’s first Black, openly lesbian mayor of a major city — take the virtual stage and address racial violence in our country through an intersectional lens.”
Tuesday, HRC replaced it with the following messages:
Lightfoot appeared Monday night in a discussion with presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, social justice activist Jamira Burley, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo, NAACP President Derrick Johnson, and author Gwen Carr — the mother of Eric Garner, who died in police custody in New York City in 2014 — about how to reform law enforcement, end brutality, and assure justice for all. The Chicago mayor said economic empowerment is the key.
“It’s about economic empowerment,” she said. “Because if people are lifted out of poverty and they are given an opportunity to feel a stake in their own future, that goes a long way.”
However, there are those in Chicago who say she hasn’t done enough on that score but has allowed police to brutalize poor people, especially Black people. There have been protests as well as some violence and looting in the city the past two weekends, starting in response to the police shooting of a Black man August 9.
There was a largely peaceful march against racism and police brutality last Saturday, “but a separate demonstration broke off resulting in two dozen arrests, 17 injured police officers and at least two injured protesters,” the Associated Press reports. Police blamed the violence on “agitators” who “hijacked this peaceful protest,” while activist group Increase the Peace said the event was peaceful until police unleashed “an all-out assault on protesters.” Lightfoot said on Face the Nation Sunday that certain people “have embedded themselves in these seemingly peaceful protests and come for a fight.”
Ten elected officials — five Chicago aldermen, four Illinois legislators, and one Cook County commissioner — Sunday issued a joint statement denouncing the response by Lightfoot and Police Superintendent David Brown. “We once again condemn Mayor Lightfoot and Superintendent Brown for their use of police force against these demonstrators on Saturday night, and for the continued escalation of surveillance, violence, and detention of protesters,” the statement read in part, Chicago TV station WMAQ reports.
Asked about the statement, Brown said, “I don’t do politics.” Lightfoot apparently has not responded directly. She has sent several tweets regarding the tensions in the city.