UNITY IN D.C. FOR LEWIS
Civil rights icon lies in state at Capitol
WASHINGTON — In a solemn display of bipartisan unity, congressional leaders praised Democratic Rep. John Lewis as a moral force for the nation on Monday in a Capitol Rotunda memorial service rich with symbolism and punctuated by the booming, recorded voice of the late civil rights icon.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Lewis the “conscience of the Congress” who was “revered and beloved on both sides of the aisle, on both sides of the Capitol.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell praised the longtime Georgia congressman as a model of courage and a “peacemaker.”
“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice,” McConnell, a Republican, said, quoting the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. “But that is never automatic. History only bent toward what’s right because people like John paid the price.”
Lewis died July 17 at the age of 80. Born to sharecroppers during Jim Crow segregation, he was beaten by Alabama state troopers during the civil rights movement, spoke ahead of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech at the 1963 March on Washington and was awarded the Medal of Freedom by the nation’s first Black president in 2011.
Dozens of lawmakers looked on Monday as Lewis’ flag-draped casket sat atop the catafalque built for President Abraham Lincoln. Several wiped away tears as the late congressman’s voice echoed off the marble and gilded walls. Lewis was the first Black lawmaker to lie in state in the Rotunda.
“You must find a way to get in the way. You must find a way to get in trouble, good trouble, necessary trouble,” Lewis intoned in a recorded commencement address he’d delivered in his hometown of Atlanta. “Use what you have … to help make our country and make our world a better place, where no one will be left out or left behind. … It is your time.”
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus wore masks with the message “Good Trouble,” a nod to Lewis’ signature advice and the COVID-19 pandemic that has made for unusual funeral arrangements.
Following the Rotunda service, Lewis’ body was moved to the steps on the Capitol’s east side in public view, an unusual sequence required because the pandemic has closed the Capitol to visitors.
Late into the night, a long line of visitors formed outside the Capitol as members of the public quietly, and with appropriate socially distant spacing, came to pay their respects to Lewis.
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden paid his respects late Monday afternoon. Notably absent from the ceremonies was President Donald Trump. Lewis once called Trump an illegitimate president and chided him for stoking racial discord. Trump countered by blasting Lewis’ Atlanta district as “crime-infested.” Trump said Monday that he would not go to the Capitol, but Vice President Mike Pence and his wife paid their respects.
As the Chicago Police Department continues to implement and tweak its organizational restructuring plans, hundreds of officers have been reassigned to two new teams that aim to foster community relationships and protect the rights of peaceful demonstrators in the downtown area, department leaders said Monday.
About 300 officers will be assigned to the newly formed Community Safety Team, with another 250 or so officers going to the department’s Crisis Intervention Response Team, Supt. David Brown said at a news conference Monday morning.
Officers on the Community Safety Team, led by Cmdr. Michael Barz, will operate mostly on the South and West sides, working to supplement efforts by district commanders while also reaching out to community leaders in an attempt to forge stronger neighborhood ties. More than 150 other officers already assigned to the department’s Summer Mobile Unit will be folded into the Community Safety Team, as well.
“Let me be clear: This is not a roving strike force like what CPD has had in the past,” Brown said. “Working with the district commanders and with the community policing office, they are serving these neighborhoods. Serving.”
The team will work with block clubs, faithbased organizations and community leaders, while also participating in peace marches, food drives, COVID-19 resource dis- tribution and other neighborhood events.
“Until you know the community, you can’t very well protect the community,” Brown said.
Ald. Jason Ervin (28th) cheered the team’s creation.
“This is a breath of fresh air for residents on the West Side of Chicago, as we have experienced a large number of criminal incidents without, what we believe to be, an adequate response,” Ervin said. “And so, the teams that have been put together today, we believe, will help address those issues in our community.”
The Critical Incident Response Team, under the direction of Deputy Chief Michael Pigott, will focus primarily on large gatherings in the downtown area, which have become common in recent weeks. Last week, the city removed a statue of Christopher Columbus that had drawn the ire of hundreds of protesters.
“The mission of the Critical Incident Team is simple: It is to protect the residents and the visitors that come to the downtown area, or any area in the city, [who] are here to peacefully express their views or enjoy a ballgame or a festival,” Pigott said.
In recent weeks, as murders and nonfatal shootings have surged, Brown repeatedly has said large gatherings in the downtown area take officers away from the South and West sides, where gun violence is most prevalent.
The Critical Incident Response Team also will respond to active criminal incidents in the downtown area. Compared with many other parts of the city, shootings downtown are infrequent, though several have happened in recent weeks.
The department began its extensive organizational restructuring last year under interim Supt. Charlie Beck, and the unveiling of the two teams comes shortly after the department disbanded its gun and saturation teams.
Brown conceded Monday the plans set forth under Beck needed to be tweaked in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, surging violence and civil unrest in the wake of the death of George Floyd.
“The circumstances on the ground changed the day I got here,” Brown said. “What would have been the right reorganization three months ago ended up needing another reorganization just three months later.”
U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Ala., and other members of the Congressional Black Caucus depart at the conclusion of a service for the late Rep. John Lewis as he lies in state at the Capitol in Washington on Monday.
Members of the public view the flag-draped casket of Rep. John Lewis at the east front steps of the U.S. Capitol on Monday evening.
Rep. John Lewis
Chicago Police Supt. David Brown on Monday unveiled two citywide teams.