CHICAGO — Neighborhoods across Chicago held vigils Wednesday night in memory of slain Chicago police officer Ella French and her wounded partner, who remains hospitalized.
In honor of French and the Chicago Police Department, Alderman Matt O’Shea (19th Ward) hosted a vigil for his Southside community outside the 22nd Police District Station in Morgan Park. More than 200 attended, with cops, CPD families and neighbors coming together in hopes of change.
“You and I, friends, can not change the world, but we can change our part of the world and we do it by loving, by being there with each other, supporting and never giving up,” said a CPD chaplain.
Phil Cline, the former superintendent now in charge of the Police Memorial Foundation, also addressed mourners.
“It is not how these officers died that made them heroes, but how they lived, and that is how we should remember Ella,” Cline said.
Resident Jim McAteer told WGN he hopes French’s fatal shooting represents a shift.
“If something happens to someone like her, and it doesn’t make people kind of wake up and at least take a look at what’s going on, I don’t know what would.”
As the fallout from the tragic events of Saturday continues, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Wednesday offered support for French.
“The most important thing is that we honor her service,” Lightfoot said. “We support her mom and her brother and that we pray every day for the other officer who was injured and still hospitalized and his family.”
The mayor also reflected on how colleagues remembered the 29-year-old officer.
“By all accounts, Ella French was an incredible person extraordinarily hardworking and a great colleague.”
Lightfoot’s statement comes on a day that saw an Indiana man accused of purchasing the gun used in the fatal shooting of French appear in federal court.
Jamal Danzy, 29, allegedly bought the weapon from a licensed gun dealer in Hammond, Indiana, in March and then gave it to one of the two Chicago brothers accused in the deadly shooting of French.
Prosecutors say one of the brothers was not legally allowed to possess a firearm.
A federal judge on Wednesday released Danzy on a $4,500 unsecured bond. However, he will remain under court supervision and must not contact the fallen officer’s family.
The release sparked outrage from Chicago police Supt. David Brown, who called the move a “disservice” to French’s memory.
”This decision sets a dangerous precedent that straw purchasers like Danzy are not a danger to society, despite the fact that his alleged actions directly led to the murder of a Chicago Police Officer and left another in critical condition,” Brown said.
French’s partner is said to be recovering after a complicated surgery last night.
“He’s got a long road ahead of him,” O’Shea said.
The alderman told WGN that “somehow, some way,” he hoped the vigil could bring the city together to heal and in support of the police.
The message resonated with vigil-goer Lauren Hudson.
“She’s only a few years younger than I am,” the 33-year-old mother of two said. “To have her taken like that is heartbreaking. Absolutely heartbreaking.”