Coun­cil de­feats ef­fort to call in Na­tional Guard

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY STE­FANO ES­POS­ITO, STAFF RE­PORTER ses­pos­ito@sun­times.com | @sle­spos­ito

Mayor Lori Light­foot and her City Coun­cil al­lies on Fri­day re­buffed an ef­fort by some al­der­men to have Gov. J.B. Pritzker de­clare a state of emer­gency in the city, al­low­ing the de­ploy­ment of the Illi­nois Na­tional Guard to as­sist po­lice.

The pro­posal was re­ferred to com­mit­tee for fur­ther dis­cus­sion and de­bate on a 30-17 vote.

Light­foot had la­beled the ef­fort “grand­stand­ing” by the four al­der­men who called for the spe­cial Coun­cil meet­ing. Two of the four al­der­men, Light­foot has noted, are her most out­spo­ken and knee­jerk City Coun­cil crit­ics: An­thony Beale (9th) and Ray Lopez (15th). Lopez and Beale were joined by Ald. An­thony Napoli­tano (41st), whose Far North­west Side ward is home to scores of po­lice of­fi­cers, and Ald. Les­lie Hairston (5th), who rep­re­sents Hyde Park and South Shore.

Be­fore Fri­day’s vote, Beale hit back at Light­foot’s claim he was merely seek­ing at­ten­tion.

“This is not per­sonal. This is not grand­stand­ing,” he said. “This is a Hail Mary to save our com­mu­nity from the things that are hap­pen­ing ev­ery sin­gle day.”

When Light­foot tried to have City Clerk Anna Valencia call roll, Beale said, “This is not a dic­ta­tor­ship, Madam Pres­i­dent, this is a democ­racy.”

He said he does not want to see the Na­tional Guard pa­trolling the city but merely as­sist­ing over­worked po­lice of­fi­cers.

“But there are cer­tain ar­eas in each and ev­ery one of our com­mu­ni­ties that de­serve to be pro­tected just like the gem of this city, which is down­town,” Beale said.

Lopez said there has been no “plan” go­ing for­ward af­ter the ri­ot­ing and loot­ing in the city in re­cent weeks.

“There have been no hear­ings by any com­mit­tee re­gard­ing what that plan is. So I’m sorry if peo­ple feel of­fended, but this is where we are today,” Lopez said.

Dur­ing a brief­ing af­ter the meet­ing, Light­foot said she wel­comes a “ful­some” de­bate.

“I’m not go­ing to hes­i­tate to do ev­ery­thing I can to keep our res­i­dents safe … but the Na­tional Guard, de­spite my own view, is not a panacea, and what I’ve seen over the course of the sum­mer is that if not de­ployed in the right way, it can go dis­as­trously wrong,” the mayor said.

She also pushed back against sug­ges­tions her ad­min­is­tra­tion is ex­clud­ing al­der­men from dis­cus­sions about crit­i­cal city pol­icy.

“We are, on a reg­u­lar ba­sis, mul­ti­ple times a week, our staff is en­gaged with al­der­men and try­ing to help them solve the nuts and bolts of chal­lenges in their ward,” she said, adding, “Ev­ery al­der­man has my cell­phone num­ber. They don’t hes­i­tate to reach out.”

Ald. An­thony Beale

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