CHICAGO (CBS) — Rallies in support of Chicago Police were held in Chicago Wednesday evening, following Officer Ella French’s on-duty murder and amid more divisiveness between the police rank-and-file and city leaders.
As CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov reported, people stood 15 deep at times late Wednesday to support Chicago Police in the outside the Morgan Park (22nd) Police District, 1900 W. Monterey Ave. The mournful sound of a bagpiper signaled the start of the rally.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Heavy Rain, Possible Flood Watch
“We know the risk, yet we still choose to serve,” said Chicago Police Chaplain Officer Kimberly Lewis-David.
The hundreds gathered to honor Officer French, her seriously wounded partner, and a third officer who shot one of the suspects at 63rd Street and Bell Avenue this past Saturday night. The group also thanked Chicago’s officers.
“They’re at a breaking point,” said Ald. Matt O’Shea (19th).
That sentiment and growing frustration is over what many officers call Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s anti-police policies. It became more blatant in the last few days, after officers turned their backs on Mayor Lightfoot at the hospital.
A similar scene was seen in late 2014 and early 2015 in New York City, when NYPD officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were shot and killed in their squad car in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn by a gunman who went on to take his own life. The main police union in New York City, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, had been angry with Mayor Bill de Blasio and accused him of failing to support police – particularly following the death of Eric Garner in custody on Staten Island and a grand jury’s subsequent decision not to indict an officer who was involved – and so officers turned their backs on de Blasio at both slain officers’ funerals.
But such an action by Chicago Police is new.
At the Morgan Park rally, Kozlov asked former Chicago Police Supt. Phil Cline what he would do to improve morale.READ MORE: Man Dies After Being Shot In West Garfield Park
“I would go around every station, and talk to every officer, and let them know that we’ve got to count on each other,” Cline said.
Meanwhile, a rift also exists between the CPD and many residents – especially Black and brown communities – stemming from what activists call decades of systemic racism and abuse.
Carissa Parker’s son is a young cop himself.
“He’s the future of CPD,” Parker said.
Parker started a support group for officers’ moms. They are also working to heal the police-community divide.
“We do some community projects with some youth groups, and so we really want to help humanize our police officers with the community,” Parker said.
Police Supt. David Brown did not attend the rally. Earlier, the mayor said she planned to increase CPD’s budget this fiscal year.MORE NEWS: 15-Year-Old Critically Wounded, Among 2 Shot In Belmont Heights Online Sale Meetup
A “support the police” prayer rally was also held in front of the Jefferson Park (16th) District station, 5151 N. Milwaukee Ave., on Wednesday night. Police Chaplain Dan Brandt led the rally.