Distraught Chicago officials complained to Mayor Lori Lightfoot -- as looting and rioting in response to George Floyd’s death swept through the Windy City -- pleading for help and warning that the vulnerable had lost access to food and medicine.
According to a tape obtained by WTTW News of an online conference call among the city’s 50 aldermen and the mayor, one alderman could be heard weeping while others angrily decried what was going on in the city.
“My ward is a s--t show,” one alderman says. “They are shooting at the police.”
After the death of Floyd in police custody last month, riots and protests broke out in cities across the country, with many being overwhelmed by the scale of the looting and violence -- even though largely peaceful protests have returned to the streets after that initial surge of unrest.
The call in Chicago was held Sunday, May 31. That day alone, there were 699 arrests -- primarily looters -- 132 officers injured, 48 shootings and 17 homicides, according to CBS Chicago, as well as widespread damage to businesses and other property.
One alderman asked how seniors and vulnerable populations were supposed to get medicine and food if “every CVS, every Walgreens is shutting down.”
“How do businesses recover and why would they want to recover in our community?” another is heard asking.
Lightfoot herself recognized what she described as a “massive, massive problem.” Earlier she described rioters as just f-----g lawless right now.”
“I don’t know about you, but I haven’t seen s--t like this before, not in Chicago,” Lightfoot said.
It's a sign of just how shocked and overwhelmed city officials across the country were by the rioting. Many cities imposed curfews in response, which eventually helped reduce the outbreaks of crime. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, on Lightfoot's request, called in the National Guard to help deal with the crisis.
On the call, others took aim at Lightfoot herself for her response to the crisis. One man, identified by WTTW News as Ald. Raymond Lopez, demanded that Lightfoot develop a plan to stabilize Chicago’s neighborhoods for five days, calling his Southwest Side ward “a virtual war zone” where armed gang members were threatening to shoot black people.
When he demanded she respond to the remarks, Lightfoot told him he was “100 percent full of s--t.”
“Well, f--k you then,” Lopez responded.