Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and South Side Alderman Raymond Lopez cursed at each other on a conference call with the city council last Sunday to discuss how best to respond to Black Lives Matter-related riots in the Windy City.
The dust-up occurred after the alderman, a frequent critic of the mayor, pointed out that in the 15th Ward, businesses were looted and burned as Lightfoot made moves to prevent looting in downtown Chicago.
In a recording of the conference call obtained by Chicago’s CBS affiliate, Lopez can be heard criticizing the mayor’s actions, including her lockdown of the city’s Loop business and shopping districts while other areas were vulnerable.
As Black Lives Matter rioters coursed through the city, Lightfoot attempted to lock the protesters out of the Loop area by raising the bridges over the Chicago River and blockading highway exits feeding into downtown.
But Lopez accused the Mayor of forsaking his district while she focused on the Loop.
“When downtown is in lockdown, our neighborhoods are next,” Lopez warned during the call, adding, “We’re seeing this destruction … We have seen where, in other cities, this has gone on for days; and we need to come up with a better plan for days, at least for the next five days, to try and stabilize our communities.”
He added that some parts of the Back of the Yards — where leftist radical Saul Alinsky worked in the 30s and 40s — and Brighton Park neighborhoods looked like a “virtual war zone” after the rioters passed through.
Lopez added that he was not blaming the Chicago Police for not being able to prevent the looting, but lamented: “Half our neighborhoods are already obliterated. It’s too late.”
Lopez also worried that the rioters would turn from the businesses to the citizens: “Once they’re done looting and rioting, and whatever’s going to happen tonight, God help us, what happens when they start going after residents? Going into the neighborhoods? Once they start trying to break down people’s doors if they think they’ve got something.”
He noted that there were “gang-bangers with AK-47s walking around right now, just waiting to settle some scores,” and they could use the chaos as cover.
When Mayor Lightfoot did not immediately respond to his points, Lopez added, “It’s not something you ignore. This is a question that I have.”
The mayor, though, was utterly dismissive of Lopez’ worries.
“I think you’re 100% full of shit, is what I think,” Lightfoot snapped.
The reply set the alderman off, and he shot back, “No offense — Fuck you, then. Who are you to tell me I’m full of shit? Maybe you should come out and see what’s going on.”
Lightfoot then took exception to Lopez’s intimation that she protected the Loop and left the neighborhoods unprotected.
“If you think we’re not ready, and we stood by and let the neighborhoods go up, there’s nothing intelligent that I could say to you,” Lightfoot spat at Lopez. “That is the stupidest thing I have ever heard. I understand you want to preen.”
“Mayor, you need to check your fucking attitude. That’s what you need to do,” Lopez exclaimed as their phone call confrontation ended.
Lopez later told CBS 2 that his district — including parts of Englewood, Back of the Yards, Brighton Park, and Gage Park — was thoroughly wrecked by the looters. He reported that two Walgreens drug stores were destroyed, as well as numerous restaurants, the strip mall at 59th and Ashland, and the local post office.
And with the Post Office destroyed, residents have been without mail for a week.
Lopez and Lightfoot have become steadfast foes since the Windy City’s first gay mayor took her seat last year. Most recently, Lopez proposed that city officials donate their pay to help the city replace equipment used up during to the coronavirus scare. Lopez said that he felt the spirit of togetherness would not last “if the city of Chicago drags its feet on giving them an outlet to help.”
But Lightfoot did not take the proposal as a helpful offer. “In the middle of a crisis, no one is dragging their feet, Ray,” Lightfoot shot back via email.
Lightfoot also snidely joked that she’d be happy to stop paying Lopez his salary if he wanted to donate it to the city. To that slap, Lopez replied, “They keep saying, ‘We are all in this together.’ Time to put our money where our mouth is.”
Also in January, Lopez blasted Lightfoot’s style as needlessly adversarial.
“She can only exist with an opponent. She doesn’t know how to exist in a world of collaboration,” Lopez told the Chicago Tribune. “She has to have someone in constant opposition in order to make her worldview stick, and that was very clear at our inauguration where she basically turned around and mean-mugged us all as being corrupt and evil.”
Lightfoot seems fond of foul language in the pursuit of her duties. On May 29, she told President Donald Trump. “F You” for his comments about the weak response to the riots offered by many of the country’s left-wing, Democrat mayors.
The next day, the riots came to Chicago.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Facebook at: facebook.com/Warner.Todd.Huston.