By J. Coyden Palmer
Let me make it crystal clear to the Mayor of the City of Chicago. The Black community does not trust you. They also don’t see you as one of us. Your actions during the civil unrest and lawbreaking that gripped our communities is borderline criminal. Your arrogant press conference the next day (Sunday, May 31, 2020) when you defended every decision that was rightfully questioned by the media, fueled the community’s suspicions about you: that you are pro-North Side and don’t have a clue what takes place on the South and West Side communities where African Americans mostly reside.
You were offended by the questions by reporters and reports in the media, well, too bad. Nobody cares if you were offended. We literally witnessed in-person or on live television as bands of looters rummaged throughout our communities unimpeded. Banking institutions, grocery stores, automobile supply shops, pharmacies, and other vital businesses were left in ruins, as members of the Chicago Police Department were either M.I.A. or more likely, stood by neutered by an order not to engage by top brass, according to numerous officers we spoke with.
That Mayor Lightfoot is incompetent. That Mayor Lightfoot is how you lose the trust of a voting base that was iffy on you to begin with. That Mayor Lightfoot could be our legacy. You have two huge problems that will be tough to overcome with Black Chicago: You’re not from here and you don’t live among us.
You see Mayor Lightfoot; Black Chicagoans are a proud group. We are connected by our shared experiences and pride in our neighborhoods, you know the places you completely ignored during the unrest. When two Black people from Chicago meet for the first time, the two questions that are immediately asked are; what high school did you go to and what neighborhood are you from? Most people will know the answer to the second question after the first question is answered. If you tell another Black person, “I’m from K-Town or I’m from the Wild 100’s,” we know what that means. If we were to ask you those questions, you couldn’t answer them. Thus, why you will have trouble gaining traction in our community. You could do yourself a favor by putting some Black people from the South and West Sides in key administrative positions. We heard about your choice for the new head of Chicago Public Schools Sports Administration, that’s the perfect example of what I’m talking about. You need people who can give you solid counsel so you don’t keep making the same stupid mistakes and asinine comments that are going to get you voted out of office in three years.
Unless you can successfully navigate our culture as Barack Obama did, get ready to going back to practicing law. You see Barack, while not a native Chicagoan, married a Black woman from the South Side. He also ingrained himself in our community with his work for a number of years. He represented us in the state legislature, U.S. Senate and perhaps, most importantly, he lived on the South Side and raised his children in our community. He became a White Sox fan and understands much of our lingo and unique civic culture.
While you have every right to marry who you want, live where you want, and do volunteer work wherever you so choose, it will come with a price in the eyes of our community. That’s the reality. What I’m trying to get you to understand in no uncertain terms is, you have little cred with us now.
If you had more native Black Chicagoans in your administration, they could have easily advised you on which areas were most likely to be targeted by looters in our community. The blueprint was the areas that were hit during the 1990’s Chicago Bulls celebrations.
Look at the color-coded map of the first-round results of the 2019 Mayoral election provided by Wikipedia. You didn’t win our wards. It is easy to conclude you were not our first choice. You won the North Side, which is where most of us don’t live and where the bridges were raised and exits from the expressway were blocked off, virtually shutting those areas down and protecting them on June 1. It was symbolic in many ways.
Your reasoning for the slow police response on June 1 was call volume. You told us 911 was inundated with calls, about 2,000 per hour. A true fact as one would expect during a riot. However, when a reporter asked you minutes later about people protecting their own lives, businesses, and property with legal guns, you dismissed the idea and likened it to the sad tragedy in Georgia where two white men hunted down a Blackman out jogging who they thought was stealing from a house under construction and murdered him.
With all due respect mayor Lightfoot, F-you, since that seems to be your term of choice recently. You know, similar to those same words you said to Agent Orange in the White House just days before and reportedly to Ald. Ray Lopez (15th) after he dared question your plan for protecting neighborhoods. How do you say eff the President and then the next day you protect his property while leaving our community twisting in the wind? How can you tell Black Chicagoans not to take measures to protect themselves and their livelihoods just minutes after explaining how your police force was completely ineffective in protecting this same group of the citizenry? I didn’t see you with a weapon standing post over businesses on June 1 repelling looters. In fact, I didn’t see you at all in our part of town. I did however see you giving a press conference on television as the rioting and violence was in full swing, in broad daylight. Yep, that was you, telling the press how outraged you were at the events the night before and how Supt. David Brown had a plan in place to protect the city.
In the meantime, police in Rockford, Illinois, understanding the seriousness and reality of the circumstances, told their business owners to arm themselves. According to instoremag.com, jewelry store owners Mark and Monica Clodius, were armed with a handgun and rifle at the suggestion of officers after their business’ shatter-resistant windows were indeed shattered by criminals who used power tools to breach inside.
“Monika stayed in the store behind me brandishing her pistol as I stood in the smashed-out vestibule holding the rifle at the ready. Cars came through our parking lot, saw us and drove off, only to have the same or new vehicles arrive again and again over 20 to 30 some minutes,” Mark told the magazine. “We were able to protect both our persons and property.”
Gee citizens actually being allowed to defend themselves successfully without going all Georgian racist on the citizenry. What a novel idea Lori.
In the meantime, Brown tried to explain to us the “logic” behind his tactics the following day and said how his officers did a great job of protecting “high-value targets” that coordinated and apparently much smarter rioters were after. I guess none of those “high-value targets” he was concerned about protecting included lives, essential businesses, and property on the South and West Sides. But there was one high-value target on the North Side that was protected by a contingent of officers we can confirm; Lori’s home. But I mean how much can we really expect from Brown? After all, he’s not from Chicago either.