Hot mic picks up Chicago mayor calling police union official ‘clown’

Mayor Lori Lightfoot has repeatedly clashed with the police union


By Gregory Pratt
Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO — A hot mic captured Mayor Lori Lightfoot calling a Fraternal Order of Police vice president an “FOP clown” during Wednesday’s City Council meeting, but she later apologized and acknowledged it was inappropriate for her “to say that out loud.”

As Fraternal Order of Police Vice President Patrick Murray approached the microphone available for people to speak during public comment, Lightfoot was overheard on the dais saying, “Back again. This is this FOP clown.”

Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks to the media regarding pausing the water meter program the before attending the Chicago Police Department graduation and promotions ceremony at Navy Pier in Chicago on July 9, 2019. (Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune/TNS)
Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks to the media regarding pausing the water meter program the before attending the Chicago Police Department graduation and promotions ceremony at Navy Pier in Chicago on July 9, 2019. (Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

Murray had approached the microphone to express support for the officers involved in the killing of Laquan McDonald who were fired by the Chicago Police Board last week.

Lightfoot’s comment was picked up by her microphone and broadcast. Nevertheless, Lightfoot’s remarks drew criticism from the union.

At her post-meeting news conference, reporters asked Lightfoot about the comment and she said, “It was not appropriate for me to say that out loud.”

Asked if she would apologize, Lightfoot said, “I think I just did. I think I said I shouldn’t have said that out loud.”

She was asked a third time about an apology and replied, “I’m sorry that I said it out loud.”

Lightfoot has repeatedly clashed with the police union and Murray.

Lightfoot appeared on an episode of the CAN-TV cable program “Chicago Newsroom” that aired in May where she mentioned a rumor she had heard about the police union’s supposed instruction to officers not to be aggressive in fighting crime over Chicago’s violent Memorial Day weekend. FOP President Kevin Graham released a statement on the union’s Facebook page, calling the rumors false.

During last month’s meeting, Murray called on her to seek input from the police union and referenced the controversy.

“You will have difficulty achieving your goals if you do not include us and our members’ support,” Murray said. “False rumors are spread when there’s a lack of communication.”

Lightfoot responded, “Any time the FOP wants to do any other thing than object and obstruct (reform), I’ll be more than willing to meet with you.”

In a statement Wednesday, the police union criticized Lightfoot’s “contemptuous remark” and said it’s “a misguided and dangerous thing to say to a 30-year veteran police officer and FOP representative, particularly at a time when the city is facing such chronic violent crime. It is also telling that the mayor would not even apologize.”

“The red noses, however, belong on the members of the Chicago Police Board, her former agency, for their despicable decision to fire three police officers and a sergeant last week for no good reason whatsoever,” the union said.

©2019 Chicago Tribune

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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