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.

Char­lie Beck

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