Jun 2, 2020
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot Press Conference Transcript June 2
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot held a news briefing on June 2 where she said Chicago will begin reopening on Wednesday as planned. She also addressed the George Floyd protests, and said of Trump’s threat to send in the military, “Not gonna happen.” Full speech transcript here.
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Mayor Lori Lightfoot: (00:14)
Hi, good morning everyone. I want to welcome the folks who are here standing with me. Superintendent David Brown, Fire Chief Richford, Public Health Commissioner, Alison Arwady, Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Commissioner Rosa Escareno. Rich Guidice from the Office of Emergency Management and Communications our hosts. And I want to also call a special attention to Veola and Jasmine James of Veola’s Day Spa in Beverly.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot: (00:51)
This past evening we saw a continuation of events or the past few days, however, at a decreased level. I want to thank our many, many public safety officers and city employees who have been working around the clock for days now to support our residents and communities, and to keep our businesses secure. I want to give a special mention to the men and women of our Department of Streets & Sanitation and Department of Buildings who’re still out in our neighborhoods along corridors hoarding up businesses that have asked for help.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot: (01:27)
And let me just give you a few statistics on the work that they’ve done over the last few days. They have secured over 175 buildings, commercial corridors, North Avenue on the West side, Madison and Pulaski commercial corridor, 95th street, Stony Island, 47th street, 59th and Wentworth, Ashlyn, Cottage Grove Corridor, 87th street and 83rd and Kedzie. And this list will only grow longer. I also want to commend the efforts of our local alderman who have all been out at all hours in their wards, assessing the damage, organizing volunteers, helping the business people, and really being what we would expect true public servants at a time of need in their communities.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot: (02:25)
I do want to also provide an update on our move out of shelter in place and going into phase three in our city’s reopening. But let me say a few words first about what my personal observations have been over these last few days.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot: (02:40)
Yesterday I visited a number of neighborhoods throughout our South and West sides that have been impacted by the damage over these last few days. And just as you hurt, you’ve seeing all this loss around you. These are businesses that have been gearing up to open tomorrow, but were instead cleaning up debris, sweeping broken glass, and trying to tally the inventory that had been stolen from them. And also of course, contacting insurance companies. It was hard to see, hard to take in, painful because the expressions of frustration and anger and hurt at life’s work and savings disappearing in such a callous manner. It was hard for many of these folks to take in. A lot of tears were shed.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot: (03:39)
One business owner did burst into tears saying how much her business means to her. And I had to tell her because I think we both wanted to embrace, but we just touched each other’s arms and tried to be there as a support for her in this incredibly painful moment. She just broke down, looking at the devastation that had happened in her business.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot: (04:07)
But as hard as all of that was, and it was, I also saw people in communities who care deeply about each other and everyone in their neighborhoods. I was down on the far South side at a strip mall where there was a Juul and alderman Mitchell had done it all call to people in his community. They had been out there to ward off the looters and were successful in some ways, but not successful in others, but they were there yesterday and had been there from the early morning to help the workers in that Juul, clean up, board up, and start to restock the shelves so that they could be open and available for people in that neighborhood.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot: (04:57)
And I saw scenes like that with people in community stepping up and reclaiming the territory, reclaiming the geography in their neighborhoods. And as hard as everything I saw was when you see moments like that, and that was repeated all over the city, that gives you hope.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot: (05:20)
Block by block what I saw was even amidst damage was a sense of pride and work in communities and families. And people who know their neighbors and know how to take care of them. And what I saw yesterday was also the power in the bond that truly what it means exemplifies what it means to be a neighbor, particularly in this time of need. That was a humbling experience to bear witness to the resolve in a simple notion shown in these incredibly compassionate gestures that I all over the city. After a lot of conversation with people on the ground whose lives had been shattered. And after a lot of consultation with local businesses, local chambers, local alderman and other elected officials. Everywhere I went, I asked the question, should we open? Or should we delay? And to universal acclaim emphatically what I heard from people is, “Mayor, we have to step forward.” We have to open even those businesses that may not be able to open tomorrow those owners told me, “Mayor, we’ve been preparing, our workers are ready. We need to see our customers. They need to see us being resilient and recovering even in the face of all the losses over 10 weeks and particularly the devastating losses over these last couple of days.”
Mayor Lori Lightfoot: (07:02)
So I want to tell the city now after a lot of consultation and yes, a lot of prayer, we will reopen tomorrow and take this important next step as planned. That means numerous businesses in public spaces will be reopening to the public with limited capacity.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot: (07:24)
These include personal services and retail stores, as well as restaurants and coffee shops with a focus on outdoor space. In light of the events over the past few days, we’ll continue the work that we’ve been doing directly with local chambers of commerce and business service organizations to assist and secure the reopening process, particularly for impacted businesses.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot: (07:51)
These efforts include increased and continued support for our neighborhood business development centers because they can provide the technical assistance to help people get through this difficult time. As well as partnering with these groups to provide volunteers, insurance information, and financial relief options. We’ll also help our small businesses connect with our PPE, the personal protective equipment marketplace that we set up way before the events of the last few days. We want to make sure that those businesses are able to take advantage of this resource in partnership with our local startup Rheaply.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot: (08:36)
And as a reminder to everyone as well, we will also still be moving forward with our open streets plan to help our small businesses particularly our neighborhood restaurants. Have the extra space they need to safely welcome back customers and get their operations back on track. And want to remind businesses seeking information to visit our city’s reopening website, chicago.gov/reopening. There is a wealth of information and guidelines that you can use to help you navigate this difficult time.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot: (09:14)
These guidelines are across industries. And for those of you who are explicitly represented, we have added a new feature to find guidelines that apply to you. 311 is also standing ready to answer your questions and direct you to the department that can help.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot: (09:31)
We’ve also been working closely with local chambers to get them up to speed on every aspect of this transition and taking their feedback on what their members need. So they are resource as well, particularly in communities hardest hit by the events of the last few days. And as part of this effort, we created a direct line of communication between city officials and neighborhood chambers. And I’ve got to credit Commissioner Escareno for your hard, important work and the conversations that you’ve been continuously having with businesses and local chambers to help them know that we are here. We stand at the ready to help them.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot: (10:14)
Businesses should not hesitate to call 311 or contact their local chamber with requests for support, whether it’s board up, whether it’s cleanup or anything else that you need. We stand at the ready and you don’t have to wait, reach out. I want every business in Chicago to hear me. And when I say that we are 110% dedicated to you successfully reopening safely and securely and getting back up on your feet. We want economic activity to resume peacefully and safely in every single neighborhood, especially those hurting the most. I heard that over and over again in neighborhoods that have been hard hit for years, that they need a lifeline and they need it now, and we need to be there for them. I want to encourage our customers to shop locally, to support those local businesses. That’s going to be critically important for them to be able to survive.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot: (11:16)
We want economic activity to resume peacefully in every neighborhood, and we’re doing everything we can to make sure that that happen, but doing it again safely and securely. As we move forward, we will continue recovery efforts for the businesses that were alluded. This will include continued police presence at grocery stores, pharmacies that are vital to their local communities to allow them to restock and rebuild. And we are working diligently with CVS and Walgreens. We have told them, even in this difficult time, when your stores have been hit, we need you in our communities to be there. And we are excited about the efforts of Senator Duckworth to push both of these businesses, to provide alternatives to customers who need those vital medicines, who need diapers and formula so that we can provide alternatives while these stores are on the men and recovery. And we’ll be announcing more on that soon.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot: (12:24)
We’ll also be directly engaging with insurers to push claims to be paid now. No red tape, no bureaucracy. Get your agents out in these neighborhoods and start cutting checks. These businesses desperately need the monies to which they are entitled.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot: (12:44)
And we are also in the process of developing a relief fund to supplement and support our small businesses from city and private philanthropy resources. And we’ll be announcing the specifics around that fund as soon as we can. As we proceed to phase three tomorrow, I want to level set with everyone about the caution, with what we must proceed. And there is a reason why we’ve called this phase even before the events of the last few days, cautiously reopening, and why we branded this next phase as be safe Chicago. As you will hear from Dr. Arwady, the threat from COVID-19 is very much still with us, and we must maintain all of the public health guidance that got us to this point.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot: (13:42)
And I know we’ve seen a lot of people gathering in the streets all around the city, some in peaceful protest others in other forms. But whether you were out there for legitimate and righteous reason, or for some other, you have put yourself at risk, that risk is real. It is present and it will be with us for the foreseeable future. And you need to take the precautions, not only just to protect yourself, but for others in your network, in your home that you care about, because now you are at heightened risk of COVID-19 infection.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot: (14:24)
Social distancing, and hand-washing, staying home if you had COVID-19 symptoms or exposure, wearing a face mask in public is critically important. With our move to phase three and our public health team are fully aware of the risk of an uptick and a surge in cases. We have to be cautious. We have to be careful. And that means you have to be cautious and careful.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot: (14:51)
Let me also say this. I know that there’s a lot of trauma in our city. It existed before any of the events of the last 10 weeks. It’s been heightened with COVID-19 and even more so with what we’ve seen in the devastation of neighborhoods. That trauma is real. It is present. And I want to make sure that people are taking advantage of the resources for free that exists all over the city.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot: (15:26)
I also want to speak to our young people and tell them that we hear you, and we see you. And I know that you are concerned and hurt and angry and traumatized as well. But what I would ask of you in particular, but sometimes we adults lose our heads. Sometimes we say things that we should not, be our example in the way you are with each other, in the way in which you are thinking about how you process the hurt and the fear that you were experiencing, be the leaders for us and stand up.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot: (16:04)
I say this all the time, our children are watching. I hope that they are seeing us stand up and stand tall in this moment because we need to be there for them even more now. We will not let you down. We will be here for you, and we will support you even in this difficult and scary time. And I want to say to our city, the expressions of goodwill that you all have been engaged in in every neighborhood, even in this time of your deepest fears, hang onto that feeling because that’s what chalice propel us forward. That’s what will get us through this difficult time. We will be able to heal and recover from this trauma as we have throughout our history. It may not seem like morning is coming for this…
Mayor Lori Lightfoot: (17:03)
It may not seem like morning is coming through this dark haze, but it is. Those glimmers of lights that we know exist everywhere in our city, every neighborhood, every race, color, and creed, please hang on to those moments. They are precious. They are needed now more than ever support each other. Check on your neighbors. Make sure your family is safe. Be kind to each other. We need that now more than ever.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot: (17:32)
Now I’ll welcome Superintendent Brown.
Superintendent David Brown: (17:38)
Thank you, Mayor Lightfoot.
Superintendent David Brown: (17:41)
Let me start by some observations. While I was out in the field yesterday, observing some peaceful protest and also observing some looting and rock throwing at our officers who were protecting a retail area on the South Side. On the South Side, there was a store, a retail store that was looted several times. Looters had come back for another round of looting and our officers were there, commander was in charge, protecting that business. Rocks were being thrown at our officers. They were being pelted. They stood there in line with their composure and professionalism. Then they start receiving insults, named calling toward our officers, in their face shouting, screaming. One of the protesters that were insulting our officers then recognize me and start insulting me, began calling me, “Superintendent Brown, you’re an Oreo,” which is a very insulting term to a black person in this country. Kept saying it. “Superintendent Brown, you’re an Oreo. You’re an Oreo. You’re an Oreo.” I’m thinking to myself, “Man, you have great intelligence because I love Oreo cookies.”
Superintendent David Brown: (18:58)
I said that to say this, not to make you laugh, there’s no insult you can hurl at our police officers, including myself, that would make us less professional, less ethical, that will make us do something that would embarrass the city. No insult. There’s no assault you can meet out toward us. You were throwing rocks, and our officers stood there professional. If you want to insult me, go right ahead. I’m a black man, who’s very comfortable in his own skin. I’ve been black a long time.
Superintendent David Brown: (19:46)
Another observation I had, there was an interesting exchange when one of our officers who were on the protest line, he saw a black woman in the crowd. It was a white officer. This Caldwell police officer saw a black woman in the crowd who seemed concerned, had that concerning look. She was part of a peaceful protest, but she had a concerning look. Officers broke the line. He went in and, sorry to say this, Doctor Arwady, he gave her a hug. It was an extended hug, and that was caught on camera. I thought that that was one of the best examples, barring COVID exposure, that an office could show of this noble profession.
Superintendent David Brown: (20:34)
Another example, there was looting at a particular scene yesterday. When our officers gave chase to one of the looters, they escaped got in a car and another officer was run over. Run over by the escaping looters. We captured these looters recovered a gun in the car and the officer was transported to the hospital. I visited him and his family to console them and encourage them. The officer said, “As soon as it’s over, let’s come by the house and we’ll have a couple of drinks together.” I told him, “Well, I’m a teetotaler, so it won’t be long with me, but thank you so much for your bravery and courage during this uncertain time.”
Superintendent David Brown: (21:24)
Said all that to say this, I want to continue to commend our Chicago police officers. You have made this city so proud, working tirelessly, risking your safety to protect persons and property in this fine city.
Superintendent David Brown: (21:47)
Let me also share our resource deployments. We have both protected freedom of speech, a sacred right we hold dear, while at the same time having no tolerance, given no quarters to criminal behavior, to looting, to injury, to harm to our citizens. I’ve heard, “Why not call in the National Guard, Sup? Why not get the National Guard patrolling our neighborhoods?” Really? The National Guard patrolling our neighborhoods? Let’s revisit how we got here. We got here for an inappropriate use of force in Minneapolis. We got here through police officers, not following their training and positionally asphyxiating a person till they died, caught on tape, and we’ve seen it over and over again to all of our embarrassment. Now you want to call in the National Guard who are not suited to use force in the ways all of our residents expect? All the hard work that our profession has learned and trained and been sued and there have been previous incidents, we want to turn over to a National Guard that’s not trained, has no connection to our neighborhoods, have not been engaged, who have not built trust to bring us back to the place we started? That’s how we got here. No training, no connection to the community. No effort to build trust. Now we want to turn that back over to start over again? We’re not considering that.
Superintendent David Brown: (23:59)
The looters’ tactics is interesting, as another subject. They peacefully protest. Then they end the protest, while all at the same time, factions of peaceful protest are in the crowd ready to loot as soon as peaceful protest end or walk back. Then our officers have to both navigate First Amendment sacred rights while at the same time, no tolerance for looting. We have to move our resources at split second moments across this fine city, we have to pre-deploy resources, anticipating movements. I’m really proud of our commanders. I’m really proud of our deputy chiefs and our chiefs who have been very, very flexible fluid and strategic in our deployments. My thoughts, we need your help in rebuilding. We need your help helping businesses board up their windows. We need your help with rumors on social media that fuel some of the divisiveness in our cities, that have fueled some of the rioters’ anxiety about what’s happening, whether or not we’re bringing in the National Guard to arrest them, who have no training in use of force in our city. This is fueling more and more anxiety, more and more anger. We need your help. I know this is a big ask, but the best thing you can help us with, stay off social media. Don’t buy into the rumors, help us deal in reality, in facts as it relates to what’s happening on the ground.
Superintendent David Brown: (25:59)
Here’s the last takeaway I’ll give. I was in the South Side, headed back across town to the EOC to get an update and I saw a black business owner with a sign that just said, “I love you with a heart.” He was blaring some music I could barely make out, but it reminded me of 1970s, R&B, so I had to pull over. I told my team to pull over, let me get out and interact with this business owner. We got a chance to speak briefly. He was playing Marvin Gaye, What’s Going On? He was a young man. I said, “Man, your parents must’ve raised you right.” He began talking about the looting and how he was standing there with a sign that said, “I love you,” So that he can put forth a positive, a positive message to those who would protest, who would loot.
Superintendent David Brown: (26:53)
He invited me to come back. He had an art studio, and my daughter is artsy. I said, “I’ll bring my daughter back for one of your classes.” I walked away hearing the last parts of the song, What’s Going On. “Only love can conquer hate,” Brother Marvin said at the end of that song. Google What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye, young people, and let me know what’s going on.
Superintendent David Brown: (27:27)
Next, I’ll turn it over to the Fire Chief Richard Ford.
Fire Chief Richard Ford: (27:36)
Thank you, Sup.
Fire Chief Richard Ford: (27:38)
Since the beginning of this event, we’ve gone from 86 structure fires, including 3,000 medical events that were taking place. Fire department handled them. Up until the last night, we had 53 structure fires in addition to the 2,300 other events that we handled for the city of Chicago. Working with our brothers and sisters and fellow divisions, we’re keeping a good handle on this and we’re working it to make it the best for you. We ask you because today is going to be 90 degrees hot. Please, look out for your seniors. Please, do not open up the fire hydrants, as pressure will be needed to handle any other emergencies.
Fire Chief Richard Ford: (28:27)
I couldn’t be prouder of the men and women, Fire and EMS as they stepped up and done what is needed in order to maintain safety for you in the city of Chicago. Remember always, the fire department will be there when we need you. I’ll turn this over to Rich Guidice.
Rich Guidice: (28:50)
Commissioner. Thank you, Commissioner, Mayor.
Rich Guidice: (28:54)
Morning. I’m Rich Guidice, Executive Director of the Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications. With today’s expected forecast of warm weather, the city of Chicago is advising residents that cooling centers and cooling buses will be made available across the city. Cooling centers will be open at the King Center located at 4314 South Cottage Grove and the Garfield Center located at 10 South Kedzie. Centers are open from noon to 8:30. Additionally, cooling buses will be set up outside of all police district locations. OEMC, as always, will monitor conditions and resources around the city. We urge residents to be cognizant of the weather conditions or emergency situations and heed messages from officials. To receive emergency alerts, subscribe to Chicago text or email alert system at www.thatnotifychicago.org.
Rich Guidice: (29:46)
Thank you. Now I’d like to introduce Commissioner of Chicago Department of Health, Dr. Allison Arwady.
Dr. Allison Arwady: (30:00)
Thank you, Rich.
Dr. Allison Arwady: (30:02)
As we’re moving into Phase Three, I am happy to announce that we have reached all of the public health metrics that allow us to make that step forward. New cases continue, but they are on the decline, and that has been a steady decline. That said, we are still adding hundreds of COVID cases every day, and we will pass 50,000 COVID cases just in the city of Chicago in the next couple of weeks.
Dr. Allison Arwady: (30:31)
Hospitalizations are similarly on the decline. We’re seeing fewer new people being admitted to the hospital with COVID. But right now there are 1,100-plus people in Chicago hospitals with severe impact of COVID.
Dr. Allison Arwady: (30:48)
Deaths are on the decline, but we’ve already had more than 2,100 Chicago residents die. Unfortunately, that will continue to climb.
Dr. Allison Arwady: (30:57)
Our percent positivity, meaning what percentage of the tests that we are doing across the city of Chicago, has fallen below that 15% benchmark that we had set. That is great news, but it means that we are not done.
Dr. Allison Arwady: (31:14)
This progress is fragile at best. You heard the mayor reference that the reason we call Phase Three, cautious reopening, is because now more than ever we need to be cautious. In a city that still has a lot of COVID-19, our risk is simply higher than it is in other cities, other parts of the state, other parts of the country. The chance that a gathering will have someone in it who has COVID-19 but doesn’t even know it, because of course one of the most insidious things about this virus is it has the potential to spread even among people who do not have symptoms, that risk is present and it is higher. Again, if people have been in gatherings for any reason, protest-related or not, prior to the lifting of the stay-at-home order in Chicago, which will be coming tomorrow, you are at increased risk for spreading COVID.
Dr. Allison Arwady: (32:17)
Again, we encourage and ask people as much as possible to keep that 14 days self-quarantine. At a minimum, we need you to limit close contact with our most vulnerable Chicagoans. Who is that? People over 60, people with underlying medical conditions. You’ve heard me say this over and over again, but let me just put some numbers on that. 81% of the deaths in Chicago residents from COVID have been among people over 60, even though only 18% of Chicago is over 60. 92% of our deaths have been in people with underlying medical conditions, led off by diabetes, hypertension, lung disease.
Dr. Allison Arwady: (33:03)
As we move ahead, cautiously reopening, I know everybody is excited to be able to start taking steps forward, and so am I, but our success at the end of the day does not come down to how much testing we get or how much response capacity we build or how good our next set of metrics will be, although I promise we will continue to grow in those ways and make sure that the ways in which we reopen, the ways in which our businesses and our other industries reopen are as safe as they can be. Risk is not gone here and it will not be. The biggest predictor of how well we do in Stage Three does not have to do with the exact timing of reopening, or the exact percentages that we said, or the barriers that we put in place; it comes down to the individual decisions that you make every day. We need you, please, not to-
Dr. Allison Arwady: (34:03)
And we need you please not to forget about COVID and to limit the opportunities that it has to spread. Continue to check on our most vulnerable residents. Today, it’s going to be hot as you heard, that’s an extra reason to do so. I do want to let people know, because I think there’s sometimes some confusion about this, that it is absolutely safe for you to have your windows open related to COVID. We want breezes coming through there, the risk is when you are within six feet of a living breathing person, especially for more than 10 minutes, especially without a cloth face covering. So please don’t feel like you need to have your apartment shut in from COVID. And if you really are getting significantly hot, I want you to be taking advantage of the cooling opportunities that the city is making available.
Dr. Allison Arwady: (34:57)
As we move forward, please keep doing what has worked so well, so far here in Chicago, keep staying home if you’re even a little bit sick or you’ve been potentially exposed to someone with COVID. Keep that six foot distance, it’s the most important part of any of it. Keep wearing the cloth face coverings, keep doing the hand hygiene and keep thinking about yourself, but also others. Because when you do those actions, you are actually making a difference for all of Chicago. I dearly hope that as we move into the next phase and we start following a new set of metrics, I’ll be able to continue reporting on the progress that we’ve made. Thank you for getting us this far and please keep doing the right thing, so that as we rebuild the city and as we really move past what’s been an unbelievably difficult period, we can keep sharing good news as we get on the other side of COVID-19. And with that, I’ll ask Rosa Escareno the commissioner from Business Affairs and Consumer Protection to come up.
Rosa Escareno: (36:13)
Thank you, Dr. Arwady. Good morning, my name is Rosa Escareno, I’m the commissioner for the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection. I come before you again today with a heavy heart, but also very full of optimism. Yesterday, as I visited the neighborhoods and working with the Chambers of Commerce throughout every community, it reminded me again of what Chicago is truly all about. It’s about neighborhoods. It’s about neighborhoods, businesses and residents coming together to make their communities great. And so I spent a day, the majority part of my day in the Chatham area up and down 75th street, along Cottage Grove, as well as along 79th street.
Rosa Escareno: (36:57)
And what I saw, as the mayor so eloquently stated, was this extreme passion for coming together as a community and supporting each other to bring businesses back. People know that this devastation is, it’s not just about the crisis at hand right now, but it’s about the prolonged closure of businesses and the desire to come back to some form of normality so that people can get back to work. And so that people can now continue to be in their corridors and to Dr. Allison Arwady’s message, we encourage you to continue to practice safety.
Rosa Escareno: (37:38)
Businesses are ready to rebuild immediately, and the mayor asked the question over and over again and it was a resounding, “Yes, allow us to open and then let us make the determination if we feel that we should keep our doors closed a little bit longer based on what’s happening.” But everybody said, “Allow us to reopen, allow us to be positive about taking that step forward.” And actually it’s a resiliency, not just for that commercial corridor, but the neighbors that depend on those corridors.
Rosa Escareno: (38:12)
And so with that devastation comes some other concerns. And the mayor actually talked about them. There was many areas of our city that are depleted of products and services, but even despite that the entire business community is coming together. And I want to just send a shout out to my entire team, but specifically Kenya Merritt, she’s our chief small business officer who has been working very closely with our chambers. And the chambers and the businesses actually, in the midst of all this said, “We want to come together there, we want to go to the different neighborhoods. Can you establish some sort of a volunteer system?” And we stood that up very quickly. In addition, the mayor asked us to put together an email database so that we can be direct contact to the chambers and the chambers are telling their businesses, ” Call us, tell us what you need.” And then they’re filtering that information to us because we know that our emergency services are very also stretched. And so we’re stepping in with that support.
Rosa Escareno: (39:11)
And then we’re continuing to come out into the communities and listening because as part of this reopening and recovery, it is not just enough to be out once or twice. We do this all the time with our chambers, we have coffee conversations but now more than ever, we’re talking directly to our business owners who are telling us exactly what we need to do. And so our policies, at least in the recent time, has come directly from the business community, so please continue to work with us. And our chambers have been incredible partners. They are uniting communities today to continue to open and rebuild.
Rosa Escareno: (39:51)
So again, I think that as we continue to work together through this crisis, it is important to take the precautions, and not just the COVID precautions and social distancing, but also to work with your neighbors, and to know that if you feel, and we heard it from some, but the majority said, “We want to open.” But some said, “I’m still a little concerned about the activity.” Then that’s a personal business decision and we support that as well. But I think starting progress is the way to move forward. Our city is resilient and businesses that are ready to start and they’re ready to open. They’re ready to take that step forward. So make no mistake that this one, two punch for businesses hasn’t been difficult, but we are here to support you. We are continuing to hold webinars every single day. We know there’s a lot of information about the reopening. We actually have thousands of people that have joined our webinars to ensure that this reopening… And all the guidelines, if you are confused, go to our website, chicago. gov/reopening. And so we have a lot of resources for you there.
Rosa Escareno: (41:07)
We will continue to rebuild. We are going to recover and we are going to continue to employ our workers in the business communities, in every neighborhood. And today I want to actually introduce really vibrant, resilient business owners that are joining us today. And we were talking earlier about reopening and some of the concerns, and this business is going to tell you, and I’m actually going to put her on the spot. She’s got an initiative that she initiated on her own called the ABCDs of reopening. And I want her to tell you about it because it is her own initiative to go above and beyond the steps that are being provided by us to make sure that her customers are safe, that her employees are safe. And so this is what Chicago businesses are about, is about looking out for everyone, their workers, and their residents. So let’s move forward. Thank you so much. And thank you Mayor, thank you Superintendent and everybody, because I know we’ve come together for all that we’re doing to reopen our city. Thank you.
Rosa Escareno: (42:09)
Oh, I’m sorry and let me introduce Veola and Jasmine James’ mother and daughter of Veola’s Day Spa & Wellness Center, so Jasmine’s going to come up. Thank you.
Jasmine James: (42:24)
Thank you, Rosa. Good morning, my name is Jasmine James. I’m the co owner of Day Spa & Wellness Center, along with my mother Veola James on the South Side of Chicago. We are a small business, one location, it’s a very small business. We’ve been servicing the community on the South Side and on the Chicagoland area for over 25 years. And what we’re doing is we’re looking forward to servicing the community again. As small business, it can be devastating to be closed for 10 weeks, let alone one week, one day. So we are ecstatic about reopening, just with the support, overwhelming support from the mayor’s office and the Department of Business Affairs, with the information on how to go about that safely is what prompted us to incorporate our own ABCDs of reopening Veola’s Day Spa.
Jasmine James: (43:27)
A, being appointment only. B, body temperature checks once entering the building. C, only receiving services where your mouth and your nose are covered. Those are the services that we will be providing. And D, disinfecting your hands upon arrival and leaving, dismissal. So I just want to say, especially those that are in the personal service industries, these are the things you have to have in mind with keeping your clients safe, keeping your employees safe. And I truly believe in the City of Chicago, I was born and raised here. I truly believe Chicago will recover, Chicago will rebuild and Chicago will reopen. Thank you so much.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot: (44:23)
I’m happy to take your questions.
Speaker 2: (44:25)
Mayor, thank you. There’s some questions about reopening but can we start also with the National Guard?
Mayor Lori Lightfoot: (44:32)
Speaker 2: (44:34)
Any thoughts on the curfew? Is the curfew in place still and would you consider maybe moving it sooner at 8:00 PM or 9:00 PM? And what about those who are going back to work, does that mean that they have to be at work early because it’s a staggered shift? Is it lifted at 6:00 AM [inaudible 00:44:52] work early? And let’s get included in that, there’s still folks asking about the Guard… Why don’t we start with the curfew though?
Mayor Lori Lightfoot: (44:59)
Sure, sure, we assess that every single day, multiple times a day. And the superintendent and I, and our teams are going to be talking later to make some determinations about, do we maintain the status quo? Do we expand it? Do we shrink it? So we’ll let people know as soon as possible if there’s going to be any changes as to that. But it’s something, obviously I don’t enter into lightly. A curfew feels like a momentous occasion to me, and I spent a lot of time thinking about whether or not this was a necessary thing. And we just believe that giving the police department that additional tool was helpful. Now, obviously people who aren’t law abiding don’t care about a curfew, but I think it gives a measure of security for those who do and also gives the police department extra resources to be able to kind of move people off the streets in a peaceful way. But it’s something that we looked at every single day since we’ve made the announcement. And I hope that we get to a place soon where we can lift it entirely.
Speaker 2: (46:12)
Back to the National Guard, a question [inaudible 00:46:16], why are you providing downtown with the special protections of the National Guardsmen and checkpoints, when more residential neighborhoods are getting hit harder by looters and [inaudible 00:46:26]?
Mayor Lori Lightfoot: (46:26)
Well, let me just push back on that. And there’s no special protection for any neighborhood, we’re trying to provide necessary resources and security for every neighborhood. And as the superintendent, I think eloquently said, and let me try this again, the National Guard is trained in military tactics. They are not trained in local policing. And for every voice that says, “Bring in the National Guard.” As if this is going to solve and cure our ills, I have heard an equal number, if not more saying, “I don’t want the National Guard in my neighborhood.” We are grateful for the resources that the governor provided for us and we are putting them to their highest and best use, which is not patrolling the streets in our neighborhoods.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot: (47:16)
While the tensions between the community and the police are real and we certainly don’t ignore them, there’s been a lot of time and resources and effort spent over many years to build authentic relationships between the police and the communities that they serve. We are not going to throw all of that out the window and introduce people who are well-intended, but don’t know about policing in a local level. Their knowledge and training around the use of force is very different than what ours is at the local police level. And I’ll just say again, I’ve watched very carefully of some of my fellow mayors who have also had the opportunity to have National Guard resources in their city.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot: (48:09)
And while I’m never going to criticize another mayor, because I don’t walk in their shoes just as they don’t walk in ours, I have watched with great horror and caution when National Guard troops have been embedded with local police, their instincts in their training, that muscle memory is different than ours. They don’t know about the use of force and the level of restraint that we teach our officers. And what I’ve seen in other cities across the country is where the National Guard is used to supplant the local police, it’s tragic the results, injuries and death. We don’t need to bring that in our city. Superintendent, I don’t know if you want to add more to that, what you’ve already said?
Superintendent David Brown: (48:58)
Yes, I just want to add this briefly. The feature of the escalation in policing is one that came out of so many tragic incidents across the country, the idea of time and distance. Military, National Guards don’t practice deescalation or time and distance. Well, what is likely the outcome when rocks are thrown at National Guard? When shovels and other implements, hammers, when shots are fired from a crowd at the National Guard? Likely not the restraint, the patience that our officers have utilized, they don’t have the training in any of those areas or the experience.
Superintendent David Brown: (49:39)
And to ask them to come into our neighborhoods and be faced with those critical split second decisions without the training is obviously asking for more of the same, it’s how we got here. It’s why we’re here with departments that don’t practice the best standards, and training, and restraint, and deescalation, or even less lethal force that we all have as a tool here in Chicago and across the country that we’ve practiced and practiced. We did it through, obviously a lot of criticism, a lot of failures, even lawsuits and payouts and National Guard hasn’t had any of that experience. So to get them from point A to point B, from zero to a hundred miles an hour, as it relates to our use of force, particularly deadly force, it is asking too much and it’s wrought with failure.
Speaker 2: (50:32)
Was there a directive, Superintendent, not to use tear gas to disperse any of the looters on Sunday and Saturday evening? Is it better to protect looters from discomfort or the businesses from damaged property and lost merchandise? That’s from Craig Wall from ABC 7.
Superintendent David Brown: (50:46)
That’s just not an accurate portrayal of what we’ve done. From day one, we’ve had pepper spray in our tool kit. Tear gas, particularly CS gas is highly flammable, they were already starting fires.
Superintendent David Brown: (51:02)
[inaudible 00:51:00]. They were already starting fires. Why would you add more flammable material to an already incendiary situation? So we have to be smart. And I know this is pretty much a education to the question, but we have to be smart. We can’t add more flammable toxins to an already planned strategy by those that would do us harm to burn up cars. To burn down businesses. Why would you add tear gas that’s highly flammable to that? So, we use pepper spray from day one, we continue to have that as a tool, and we have used it pretty much every instance where it was appropriate.
Speaker 4: (51:45)
Mayor, from WVON radio: Alderman Dowell posted a message on her social media after Sunday’s destruction on the South and West side. It reflects the outrage in the African American community after neighborhoods being left unprotected, as a perimeter, the checkpoints established around the central business district. Your administration denies this, but many of us witnessed it firsthand. Again, I’m reading this question. “What was the strategy behind sending approximately 100 police officers to the intersection of North and Wells, in Old Town, to arrest 12 protestors, while leaving the mall at 55th and Wentworth to be looted and destroyed, when it could have been easily protected by the police station located on the same street?”
Mayor Lori Lightfoot: (52:26)
So here’s what I will caution again, and again, and again. Seeing a snapshot of a scene without understanding, and really seeing the entire context, and then making a conclusion about what was and what wasn’t done, is highly dangerous. And we’ve addressed the Old Town situation, but I’ll address again. What we saw, I think this was Sunday night, was a crowd of peaceful protesters who started in another area of the city and then continued on through Old Town.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot: (53:10)
And what our experience was on Friday, and Saturday, and again on Sunday, was that the peaceful protest starts during the daytime hours. But there are people who join, who are embedded into that, who are not peaceful. Again, we’ve seen people bring weapons, weapons to seemingly peaceful protests. So what we started to see as that crowd gathered, as it was marching, and then ended in Old Town, was a concern about those very elements.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot: (53:46)
And I’ll let the Superintendent get in specifically. So the snapshot that was broadcast, was the very end of a circumstance. Where absolutely, we brought appropriate number of police officers to make sure that the concerns, and the element that was in that crowd, were not going to get out of control. And I’ve said this several times, and again, I don’t want to play police superintendent here, but given the level of provocation that some of the people in this city, who some are here, some who came in from outside, to try to provoke our police officers into a confrontation.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot: (54:26)
We’re not sending five officers into a crowd of 50 or a 100 people. That is a recipe for disaster. I’ve had people question, “Well, why riot gear, Mayor?” Because people were throwing rocks, and bottles. And bringing weapons to these seemingly peaceful protest. I believe in preparation.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot: (54:51)
And those police officers have a right to go home to their families, just as all of us do. So we are going to provide them with the equipment and support that they need to quell these crowds, to do it with the least amount of force possible. And that’s what’s been taking place all over the city. And I make no apologies for that. And so I caution members of the media, in particular, to get the full story, to not draw conclusions and inflame people the way that we’re seeing happen on social media. That’s not being responsible. And ask the right and hard questions to be sure. But ask for the context before you make a conclusion and then broadcast it, and use your platform to inflame people in ways that doesn’t tell the whole story. That was a long hours, peaceful protest that was starting to turn in a different direction.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot: (55:50)
And just like people in Englewood, and people in Austin want peace in their neighborhoods. So do people in Old Town, and Uptown, and Rogers Park. Everywhere. People want to feel safe. They want the reality of safety. And that is what we have been endeavoring to do for hours on end, 24 hours, for the last several days. And I’ll echo what the Superintendent said, given what our police officers, and our fire, and EMS folks have faced, our city workers who are going out to try to help residents in need, and being pummeled, and verbally abused. Our people have shown incredible restraint. Because they know that what they’re doing is in service of the people who are the majority, the overwhelming majority, who are good people. Who love their city, love their neighborhood.
Speaker 4: (56:50)
Mayor, Bill Cameron wants to know what would you do if President Trump tried to deploy the military on Chicago’s streets?
Mayor Lori Lightfoot: (56:56)
That’s not going to, I will see him in court. It’s not gonna happen. Not in my city. And I’m not confident that the President has the power to do that, but we have our lawyers hard at work. And if he tries to do that, and usurp the power of our Governor and myself as the mayor, we will see him in court.
Speaker 4: (57:16)
So you’re preparing just in case that does happen, it sounds like?
Mayor Lori Lightfoot: (57:19)
In the event that he actually… now keep in mind, keep in mind. This is a man who likes to bluster. Even before I was mayor, this man indicated he was going to send in the Feds. Whatever that means. So let’s not overreact, but we’ll be prepared. And if he does something that foolish, we’re not having military roam our streets for the reasons that the Superintendent just said. They’re not trained in deescalation. They haven’t built trust and authentic relationships with people in our community. And we are not going to give over our city to the military so the President can play to his re-election. That’s not go happen, period.
Speaker 4: (58:08)
What about… Mike Flannery is asking, “With hundreds of retail outlets destroyed, how do people, especially those with limited mobility, obtain food, medicine, and other vital supplies?”
Mayor Lori Lightfoot: (58:18)
So I have a lot of priorities, but top among them are groceries, pharmacies, and making sure that we can get those resources into our neighborhoods that were hard-pressed before. As you know, unfortunately, we have way too many food deserts across the city. So I have my team working in a coordinated fashion to make sure that we can fill those needs. As I mentioned in my remarks, I have to commend Senator Duckworth, who’s really been on the case with Walgreens and CVS. And we believe that we’re going to be able to provide some mobile alternatives. We are again, working with our food pantries and restaurants to get up and running so we can feed people. But this is a big, huge effort. And we are on it. And we’ll be making sure that we fill that need, and partnership with the private sector.
Speaker 4: (59:10)
So as we move to phase three, will there still be the check points? Will there still be the bridges up? If you’re coming to work, how do you get into the central-
Mayor Lori Lightfoot: (59:20)
Those are exactly the kind of questions that are the right questions to ask. And we will be working with our local stakeholders, Alderman Riley, Alderman Hopkins, and of course the Superintendent. Our first priority has to be public safety. First priority has to be public safety. But we’re looking at ways in which we can make adjustments so we can open up safely, but securely.
Speaker 4: (59:43)
Can you tell us that the bridges are coming down?
Mayor Lori Lightfoot: (59:45)
I can’t tell you that right now, because we haven’t made that determination yet.
Speaker 4: (59:49)
We’re hearing from a couple alderman, who are asking if the National Guard’s good for downtown, they’re still coming back to that question. I know it’s dominating-
Mayor Lori Lightfoot: (59:59)
I think we’ve answered that.
Speaker 4: (01:00:00)
But, you’re saying no to the neighborhoods. Absolutely not.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot: (01:00:03)
Speaker 4: (01:00:04)
Phase three. How will people feel safe to eat down, to come downtown for dinner tomorrow?
Mayor Lori Lightfoot: (01:00:14)
Well, I think that’s why we’ve got to make sure that we have high visibility, not just downtown. Okay. We announced last week six pilot areas for restaurants to be able to die al fresco. Including Little Village, including Hyde Park, 53rd street, which obviously was hard hit. All of our restaurant quarters have been hard hit, but we can only do that in cooperation with them, the local chambers, the Illinois Restaurant Association, to make sure that we’ve got security plans in place so people will know, and feel comfortable coming out.
Speaker 4: (01:00:52)
[inaudible 01:00:52] from WTTW wants to know on the reports last night in Pilsen, that there were gunshots were going off all night as Latin Kings were guarding the neighborhood. Could you react to that?
Mayor Lori Lightfoot: (01:01:02)
Well, I don’t know about Latin Kings guarding the neighborhood. I’ve heard a lot of reports. I know that there… I’ve heard from many of my friends and colleagues that live in Pilsen, that there was a lot of gunfire there. Those were pursued aggressively by the police department, to make people safe. And let me just say this, what we don’t need, what we don’t need is gang members thinking that they are now the police and trying to take matters into their own hands. And I’ve had a lot of conversation with local Aldermen about that very issue.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot: (01:01:43)
These are young men that grew up in the neighborhood. They are known. And what we don’t need is for them to be out. And I heard from one Alderman, with a bunch of young men, sitting and drinking all day, and then pulling out their weapons at night. We don’t need that. We’re not going to tolerate that. The police are the public safety force in our city. Not gang members.
Speaker 5: (01:02:06)
Last question, Maryanne.
Speaker 4: (01:02:07)
Thank you. From John Greenfield, is asking about the Active Transportation Alliance has launched a petition urging [inaudible 01:02:15] Alderman to restore Chicago transit and Divvy service. They are saying shutting down the entire system, or access to it, is hurting those who need to get around the city, more vulnerable. What about Divvy and CTA?
Mayor Lori Lightfoot: (01:02:28)
Look, obviously shutting down a transit system is not something that we take lightly. We’re the only transit system in the country that ran at full service throughout COVID-19. But I also know that we have a responsibility to keep those workers safe. And I had repeated conversation through the course of the day with union leaders, from the Amalgamated Transit union, who were concerned about the safety of their employees, both bus and rail. And unfortunately, as we’ve seen less, but still, we’ve seen people trying to commandeer buses, threatening bus drivers. We’ve seen our transit system, be used by people who want to commit violent acts, criminal acts. And what I was also hearing from the head of our CTA, is that they didn’t know that they could actually have enough people to run the system at night and overnight. So we need to make sure that we’re being smart about how we use any public resources. But the first priority has to be making sure that those employees are safe.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot: (01:03:41)
What would I be, if I was ignoring the pleas of employees who were fearful. And hearing from the head of the CTA, that he was concerned about the ability to safeguard passengers and employees. That’s why we took that very serious action. We did not do that lightly. We won’t do it lightly if we need to, again. But if those same combustible circumstances align, I’m not going to hesitate to do what’s necessary to keep the transit system safe. We’ve had a lot of vandalism on our transit stations, which is unfortunate. And we know, of course, that people use the transit system.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot: (01:04:25)
You ask about, about Divvy. Now that’s a decision to Divvy made, itself. But again, unfortunately, we’re seeing people who were roaming neighborhoods, looting, fighting, and doing all sorts of criminal activity, riding around on Divvy bikes. So Divvy did a lockdown. And I was grateful for it.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot: (01:04:47)
So I’m hoping that as we move into better days, that we’ll be able to resume. But to pretend, and ignore the circumstances on the ground, and how these seemingly benign resources are being used to further criminal conduct, I can’t ignore that. I can’t turn a blind eye. And I appreciate the Active Alliance. They are a great and important voice on mobility issues in the city.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot: (01:05:16)
But again, just as I’m asking the media to get the context, I’m asking those folks, those advocates, to also get the facts, and understand the context. None of these decisions are easy. Not one. None of them will be easy for the foreseeable future. But the voters elected me to make the right calls, the tough calls, and not pander to the crowd. But to do what I felt was best based on the best information, and listening to the experts that I have around me. And listening to the voices of our residents who are hurting, and our need. And that’s what I will continue to do.
Speaker 5: (01:05:57)
Last question, Maryanne.
Speaker 4: (01:06:00)
Can I ask you about former officer [inaudible 01:06:00]? He was acquitted on a technicality. He is now seeking his job back. There’s been a news conference this morning with south side ministers, who say that he is Chicago’s version of Minneapolis police officer, former officer involved with the Floyd incident.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot: (01:06:23)
Officer [inaudible 01:06:23] is a coward. Former officer [inaudible 01:06:26] is a coward. He has no place among the honorable men and women who wear the badge of the Chicago police department.
Speaker 4: (01:06:37)
Mayor, thank you for your time.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot: (01:06:44)
Speaker 5: (01:06:44)
Thank you, everyone.