By Erick Johnson
The botched raid of a home where guns were pointed at an innocent naked Black woman before she was handcuffed has sparked a growing number of Black leaders to call for the termination of several Chicago police officers. Their treatment of Anjanette Young has renewed concerns about the CPD’s rogue culture and treatment of innocent Black residents.
The incident also raised serious questions about Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s role in what many believe was an attempted cover-up at City Hall.
The video of the botched raid has thrust Chicago into the global spotlight as television stations and newspapers over the world continue to air footage and photos of the police officers storming Young’s home. She stood naked as male officers burst through her apartment. The emotional video showed Young telling the officers 43 times that they had the wrong home. One officer chewed gum as Young cried and pleaded for an explanation.
The suspected officers were looking for a man who lived next door, on home monitoring with an active ankle bracelet.
On Monday, December 21, Lightfoot announced that all 12 officers involved in the raid were placed on desk duty, nearly two years after it happened, and one week after CBS 2 Chicago aired the video. On December 22, Lightfoot appointed former federal judge Ann Claire Williams to lead an outside investigation into the police raid case and how it was handled.
This week, Young and her attorney are expected to file a new lawsuit against the city as the city’s top attorney Mark Flessner is out of a job.
Accused of trying to block the release of the video of the raid, Flessner resigned Sunday night as the city’s corporation counsel, but Black leaders are calling for action against the police officers, who have not been disciplined since the raid occurred nearly two years ago.
On December 14, CBS 2 Chicago aired the video of the raid, setting off a torrent of outrage and criticism among Black leaders toward Lightfoot, who after putting up a disingenuous defense, apologized to Young for her humiliation and suffering during the raid. The apology has done little to quiet the outrage and suspicion Black leaders have towards Lightfoot and City Hall.
On December 20, Reverend Jesse Jackson, Sr. for the first time voiced his concerns about the raid. In a statement, Jackson said, “The 12 police officers who invaded the home of Young, a social worker, on February 21, 2019, were morally wrong. The warrant had the wrong address and the wrong person. The policemen involved cannot be trusted.
“Someone knew of this and concealed the tape. These two cases are directly linked. They knew it. They saw it. There must be sanctions imposed, and we must be deterrents for this kind of behavior.
“We need the correction and the eradication of this type of behavior. Once they saw Ms. Young fully exposed, they knew she did not receive proper treatment.”
On December 18, several Black leaders held a press conference outside CPD headquarters in Bronzeville, blasting the raid and questioning whether Lightfoot knew of or had a role in the city’s law department’s attempt to block the video.
“It’s a damn shame we have to revisit the ugliness of the CPD in the wake of the Laquan McDonald cover-up scheme,” says Bishop Larry D. Trotter of Sweet Holy Spirit Church of Chicago.
Faith leaders throughout Chicago, including Trotter, Reverend Jesse Jackson Sr., Pastor Marshall Hatch, Pastor Ira Acree, Father Michael Pfleger, Bishop Tavis Grant and others, will addressed the media concerning the recent controversial video.
Hatch, of New Mount Pilgrim Church, said, “We’ve had enough cover-ups in this city, it’s time for transparency. We demand that the Chicago City Council must conduct public hearings on the case of Anjanette Young to hold the police accountable, to hold COPA accountable, and uncover what Mayor Lightfoot knew about this case, and when she knew, what she knew, what did she do about it.”
In a statement, Acree of Greater St. John Bible Church said, “It’s horrifying to know that our police officers collaborated together to perform such a heinous act of terror against this innocent woman! She deserves justice and support from our city government and all Chicagoans.”
In an emailed letter, Lightfoot said she demanded Flessner’s resignation as Chicago’s top attorney. In the letter, Lightfoot also said she ordered the officers involved removed from the street and called on the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) to expedite their investigation of the raid.
It is unclear whether Lightfoot forced Flessner to resign as the city’s top attorney, but the mayor was, and remains, under intense scrutiny and pressure to answer questions and take action to discipline those who were involved in the botched raid and the attempt to block the video from being aired or released to the public.
Lightfoot initially denied reports that Young was denied a copy of the video after she submitted a request under the Freedom of Information Act. As public outcry intensified, Lightfoot admitted that Young’s request was denied and apologized to her during a press conference. She also apologized to Young during an interview with Perri Small on WVON on December 18.
Initially, Lightfoot tried to distance herself from the raid, highlighting the fact that it took place before she took office the following May. She then said her office and the Chicago Police Department implemented several measures to stop wrong raids of innocent residents.
During an investigation, CBS 2 Chicago found at least 50 incidents where police raided the wrong home. In one wrong raid on February 10, 2019, a boy’s birthday cake fell on the floor as police pointed guns at the family. The boy’s family settled with the city for an undisclosed sum of money.
Questions remain whether Lightfoot knew about Flessner’s attempts to block the video. The mayor maintains that she did not, but many Blacks are not buying her explanation for a big, risky legal move involving the news media. With many advisors and press aides, many believe Lightfoot had to know about Flessner’s attempts to block CBS 2 Chicago from airing the video on its newscasts.
In an interview with CBS 2, Mayor Lightfoot said she never saw the body cam videos of the Young raid, even though the station’s investigators informed her office about them in November 2019. Recently, Lightfoot acknowledged that members of her team told her about the raid through emails in November 2019.
In taking charge of the escalating scandal, Lightfoot said the law department and police force failed to release six additional videos of the raid to Young and her attorney.
However, after CBS 2 repeatedly asked why those videos were concealed, late Friday night on December 18, the mayor’s office admitted it was a failure and promised those responsible would be held accountable.
In a statement, Lightfoot said, “I again want to reiterate and affirm my commitment to righting the wrongs in this case and moving forward with full transparency and accountability.”
Yet, questions also remain whether the officers involved in the raid will be terminated for their role in the raid. None have been disciplined since the raid occurred, nearly two years ago. Their names have not been released.
For Flessner, the resignation ends a longtime working relationship with Lightfoot, with whom he worked with when she was a prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago.
In a brief email announcing his resignation, Flessner said, “There has recently been a great deal of attention drawn to the 2019 raid of Anjanette Young’s home. Monday was the first involvement that I had with the case surrounding Anjanette Young, pertaining to the video footage that was obtained by police. It is clear that the raid of Anjanette Young’s home was a tragedy that we must learn from.”
In response to Flessner’s resignation, Lightfoot said in a statement, “Earlier today, I accepted the resignation of Corporation Counsel Mark Flessner effective immediately. I want to thank him for his service to the City of Chicago. I am committed to a full review of everything that occurred surrounding this incident, will take corrective action where appropriate, and will hold people accountable.”