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2021 Men of the Year: Chicago Police

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• December 26, 2021 4:00 pm

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When Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot (D.) showed up uninvited to a Chicago hospital to visit two police officers shot in the line of duty, Chicago's boys in blue laid down the law.

"They turned their back to the mayor just as she has turned her back on the rank and file time and time again," said 15th Ward Ald. Ray Lopez, describing a group of Chicago's finest turning their back on Lightfoot during her visit to the University of Chicago Medical Center.

The officers gathered after two career criminals shot police officers Ella French and Carlos Yanez during a traffic stop. French died from her wounds.

Lightfoot insisted on visiting the hospital even though the officers' families had requested she stay away. According to Chicago Fraternal Order of Police president John Catanzara, Lightfoot "still thought she knew best and went up there against the advice of the family." Yanez's father, a retired CPD officer, reportedly blamed Lightfoot for the shooting, telling her she had blood on her hands.

The shooting of their colleagues compounded officers’ frustrations policing one of America's most violent cities—with little support from government officials—as hostility to cops has skyrocketed. Rank-and-file officers hit Lightfoot with a no confidence vote in May after police brass vacation days across the department.

Cops across the country have felt besieged by a nationwide crime spike stoked by a racial-justice movement that has often demonized anybody wearing a badge and excused rioting, mayhem and urban violence. That comes on the heels of a criminal justice reform movement that put hardened criminals back on the streets.

Lightfoot has been inconsistent on the policing issue, trapped between the pull of progressives in her party and the reality of needing police officers to deal with crime in a town often compared to Iraq. She claims she opposes measures to defund the police but has called for drastic reforms that rank-and-file officers say undercuts their ability to do their jobs.

As Lightfoot approached the officers gathered to support their fallen comrades, this group embodied the spirit of peaceful protest—they silently turned their backs on her.

For demonstrating how law-abiding citizens can and should make their voices heard, Chicago police are Washington Free Beacon Men of the Year.