CHICAGO — A viral video shows Chicago police officers involved in a tense confrontation with a group of people gathered in a street on the city’s South Side. Now, some prominent voices are saying the cops are targeting mostly black neighborhoods and ignoring similar violations in largely white neighborhoods.
Protesters gathered Tuesday at police headquarters to raise questions over how the stay-at-home orders are being enforced. The protesters said social distancing is exposing another of society’s divisions.
The viral video posted on social media over the weekend shows an angry and expletive-laden confrontation between cops and a crowd. The people gathered on the streets of Englewood were allegedly violating Gov. JB Pritzker’s stay-at-home orders intended to slow the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.
However, the video also exposed a growing sense that enforcement of the order is not equal.
In response to the video, Chance the Rapper tweeted: “Yo I seen HUNDREDS of ppl at millennium park and and pics of even more at the parks on the north side. Outside, no masks, no social distancing, enjoying themselves. Please stop sending large groups of militarized police into our neighborhoods exclusively.”
*WARNING: The video embedded below contains profanity. Viewer discretion is advised.
The accusations against the police department prompted a response from Mayor Lori Lightfoot who said they are fundamentally untrue.
“Those dispersal orders are happening all over the city – and yes, in white, areas, Latinx, in monied areas,” Lightfoot said. “Why the media doesn’t cover that I think there’s some answers to that.”
Chief of Operations Fred Waller defended the Chicago Police Department’s handling of crowd dispersals.
“CPD was also on hand for a large gathering Monday in Grant Park,” Waller said. “As you can see, our officers were busy in all parts of the city. We need to do better and we will do better.”
However activist and Catholic priest, the Rev. Michael Pfleger, pastor at St. Sabina in Auburn-Gresham, said the difference in tactics is clear as black-and-white
“We’ve got to end that culture, whether its two different ways people are treated based on your race and the color of your skin,” he said.
Lightfoot said the incident captured on video is being investigated to ensure that police used proper tactics.