Thirteen Chicago police officers were caught on camera lounging in Representative Bobby Rush’s burglarized office on June 1, as looters nearby stole from businesses, the Chicago Tribune reported. The video shows the officers sleeping on a couch, making popcorn and drinking coffee in Rush’s campaign office.
The officers were in Rush’s office, which had been broken into May 31, for at least five hours, according to CNN.
The incident has led Mayor Lori Lightfoot to apologize to Rush, a veteran and well-known activist, and both have expressed disappointment in the officers on video, Politico reported.
“Looting was going on, buildings were being burned, officers were on the front lines truly taking a beating with bottles and pipes, and these guys were lounging — in a congressman’s office. The utter contempt and disrespect is hard to imagine,” Lightfoot said during a press conference on the issue.
The Mayor & Congressman Condemned the Officers’ Actions
The officers’ actions earned condemnation by both the mayor and the congressman.
Rush said he appreciated that Lightfoot took the incident personally and also said he was disappointed in the police officers for showing “such a lackadaisical and uncaring attitude” while violating his personal space, he said during a press conference with the mayor.
“They even had the unmitigated gall to go and make coffee for themselves and to pop popcorn — my popcorn — in my microwave, while looters were tearing apart businesses within their sight, within their reach,” Rush said. “They didn’t care … but the mayor, she cared.”
Lightfoot said that their behavior would increase the perception that the police “don’t care if black and brown communities were looted and left to burn” on the city’s South and West sides, which Politico reported were hit hard by looting.
According to Politico, Chicago officials and activists have been frustrated by what they have described as a lackluster mayoral and police response, despite what Lightfoot has described in the past as an even response to all of Chicago’s 50 wards.
John Catanzara, Chicago’s police union leader, told local news station WLS-7 that the officers were responding to “a request for protection from Rush’s staffers” and were told to make themselves at home.
Lightfoot said she was even further disappointed by that response, calling the claim that Rush invited the officers there a lie on CNN. “Today, literally, the officers were, through their various contacts, were trying to say the congressman actually invited us in and he’s lying now,” she told CNN. “Bobby Rush is a former Black Panther. He didn’t invite the police into his office. And the fact that they would even say that — and even assuming that was true — five hours? When literally murder and mayhem is happening everywhere? Police officers are getting the crap beaten out of them?”
Top Police Officials Also Condemned the 13 Officers’ Actions
“I’m the first one to jump up and defend officers when I think they’ve done something right and they’re improperly accused,” said First Deputy Superintendent Anthony Riccio at the press conference. “This is indefensible.”
There was a commander out there, the commander of the 24th district. She had lost her helmet when she was engaged with some of the protesters and she stood there with no helmet and no face protection as they were throwing rocks at her and I finally had to tell her to go behind a protective barrier. … That’s all going on at the same time these thirteen guys are making popcorn, taking a nap on the couch and drinking a pot of coffee. …
They didn’t just let down the citizens of the city, they didn’t just let down the people of that community – and they did – they also let down their fellow officers who were on the street fighting that battle to try and keep the city safe and from burning. We had 120 officers injured that night that they sat there. We had 167 vehicles damaged or completely destroyed the night these officers sat there, and countless businesses damaged and looted at the same time that these officers sat there.
Lightfoot called it a “personal embarrassment” and an “indignity” and said the officers would be held accountable during the press conference.
Chicago Police Superintendent David O. Brown announced on Twitter that an internal investigation was opened into the incident.
“Behavior reflects leadership, always. It’s a hard truth to take as a leader, that you’re responsible for the behavior of others,” he said at the press conference with the mayor and congressman.