Chicago DSA supports the call to #StopLightfoot being led by young queer organizers of color, the very same who have be leading the fight against racist policing and police violence in our city for the last several years.
As laid out in detail on StopLightfoot.com, Lori Lightfoot is not the progressive she claims to be; she is a career defender of the carceral state and the interests of powerful corporations. It is this same career that has led Lightfoot to accumulate immense individual wealth.
Lori Lightfoot started her career in the public sector as a federal prosecutor. She was later appointed by former Mayor Richard M. Daley to head the Chicago Police Department’s Office of Professional Standards (OPS). During her first year in that position, the rate of which OPS found police officers guilty of misconduct dropped 38.8%. Lightfoot would again be appointed to a position of power by Mayor Rahm Emanuel as President of the Chicago Police Board in 2015. Shortly into her tenure, Lightfoot chastised the families of Ronald Johnson, Rekia Boyd, and Betty Jones, when they interrupted a hearing of the Police Task Force that she was conducting.
Lightfoot has run for mayor as a reformer independent of the Chicago machine. She’s even recently picked up endorsements from Congressman Chuy Garcia and the Chicago chapter of the Bernie Sanders’ affiliate group Our Revolution. She’s received the support of former opponents Willie Wilson, Gery Chico, Jerry Joyce, and Susana Mendoza, as well as endorsements from City Council’s two most reactionary alderman, Anthony Napolitano and Nick Sposato. Lightfoot leads in recent polling of the runoff race and has earned endorsements from both the Sun Times and Tribune.
The amount of funding piling in behind Lori Lightfoot from dark money PACs and wealthy individuals, as well as the blanket support of establishment politicians desperate to get into good favor with the candidate most likely to be the next mayor, all signal that Lightfoot will both continue and expand upon the austerity regime passed down to her by Emmanuel and Daley.
Just as entrenched power has consolidated around her ahead of the runoff, Lightfoot has begun to abandon some of her earlier progressive pledges. For example, Lightfoot now says she would “reform” but not abolish the city’s gang database, and that her opposition to the $95 Million Cop Academy being pushed through Rahm’s lame duck council was because “to do it right it would cost far more.” She even offered another solution than the one proposed academy: “we have 38 schools that are vacant from school closings, some of which can be repurposed to help us with our training needs.”
Just on Monday, Lighfoot’s campaign had Destiny Harris, one of the many young activists behind #NoCopAcademy and who was an invited guest that night, removed from the WGN debate before its start. Just a few weeks ago, Destiny Harris had been an opening speaker at Bernie Sanders’ rally at Navy Pier where she spoke about the #NoCopAcademy campaign.
Lori Lightfoot as Mayor poses a major threat to the lives of our black and brown brothers, sisters and gender non-conforming comrades, and to all the working people of Chicago. A Lightfoot administration would be a major barrier to our fight as socialists to end racist policing and police violence, as well as to the fight for universal rent control and against displacement, and the broader struggle to make Chicago a true sanctuary for all; not just for a rich few but for the many, including the undocumented.
Chicago DSA’s support of #StopLightfoot is not an endorsement of Toni Preckwinkle. Preckwinkle has been a supporter of bringing the Amazon HQ development to Chicago, and renewed her support after the company recently backed out of New York, in part because of the organized opposition of local activist and community groups such as NYC-DSA. Preckwinkle has also expressed support for regressive revenue solutions like a municipally-owned casino which would amount to a tax on the city’s poor. Rather, our intent is to amplify the grassroots messages that #StopLightfoot organizers have been uplifting, in order to counter the well-funded PR campaign that has successfully rebranded Lightfoot in ways that have serious implications for our long-term organizing.