Chicago mayor defends beefed-up police presence near home

CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot adamantly defended on Thursday a beefed-up police presence outside her home, saying extra officers were necessary to protect her and her family.

“Given the threats that I have received, given the threats to my home and my family, I’m going to do everything to make sure that they are protected,” Lightfoot said, though she declined to elaborate on the threats. “I make no apologies whatsoever for that.”

It was not immediately known how much the extra security detail cost taxpayers, how often officers are on the block, or whether officers were being transferred from other parts of the city.

Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara criticized Lightfoot’s request for extra security.

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“Maybe she should move into a high-rise downtown where you can put like 20 officers at the front of the building if need be,” Catanzara said.

Lightfoot’s comments followed a Chicago Tribune report that the police department directed officers to arrest protesters on the block where she lives if they do not disperse when ordered to do so, saying that she concluded such a move was necessary after talking to mayors in other cities about problems they’d had.

“Seeing the kind of things they have done to them and their families, I’m not going to let that happen,” said Lightfoot, who has repeatedly voiced her support for peaceful protests around the city. “That’s not what my wife and my child signed up for. It’s not what my neighbors signed up for. We have a right in our home to live in peace.”

The directive that was issued to officers last month marks the first time in memory that police are enforcing an ordinance that prohibits all neighborhood demonstrations, including peaceful ones.

But Lightfoot said that public anger over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the global pandemic and the economic hardship that the pandemic has caused all have made it necessary to put more officers near her home. Also, Lightfoot has seen how a recent protest in the downtown area turned into a violent clash between demonstrators and police.

“Comparing this to some other time doesn’t make any sense because there is no other time like this one that we’re in,” she said.

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