Chicago aldermen delay decision to declare state of emergency at special council meeting

CHICAGO (WLS) -- City Council voted to send a resolution to declare a state of emergency and deploy the National Guard to the Committee on Public Safety Friday, delaying any concrete decisions.

A small group of aldermen called a rare special meeting Friday to discuss the guard and other public safety issues, but Mayor Lori Lightfoot and her allies pushed the issues into the committee, which will meet at a later time.

"We need to have a debate about every single issue and we will continue to, but we have to do it in a way that actually builds consensus and moves towards real solutions," Lightfoot said.

Alderman Chris Taliaferro, like the mayor, said the organizers are grandstanding.

Ald. Anthony Beale was one of the four who called the special meeting and disagreed with Taliaferro, while also bemoaning that committees are where issues go to die.

Beale represents the 9th Ward on the far south side of Chicago, and said with two rounds of looting, civil unrest and one of the city's most violent summers, now is the time to discuss safety issues.

"Things are happening in the city that are really detrimental to the day to day operations, and we can't get answers to them, and when we ask the questions we get shut down and accused of grandstanding," he said.

Other aldermen argue publicly-shared answers are needed now on what the city's plans are for safety in the wake of multiple high-profile looting incidents and ongoing gun violence.

"All I'm asking for is the conversation," said 41st Ward Alderman Anthony Napolitano. "I have zero to gain by grandstanding."

"We are here because we have not had a public discussion on what the plan is for the city, this is not personal to anyone in the room," said 15th Ward Alderman Ray Lopez.

During the public comments portion, just one person called in, voicing support for the debate to proceed.
Friday's vote was 30-17 to send the resolution to committee.

The push comes after two different stretches of widespread looting and in the middle of one of the most violent summers in recent memory. The four aldermen who called for the meeting debated two resolutions.

One calls on Gov. JB Pritzker to declare a state of emergency in Chicago and deploy the National Guard to assist police for at least four months. The other resolution calls for monthly safety hearings.

Both resolutions are sponsored by Lopez, a frequent critic of the mayor.

"The perception of Chicago is we are spiraling out of control, and I don't think she has an understanding of that fact," he said. "I think too often she is trying to lead from a silo."
Mayor Lori Lightfoot disagreed.

"I think this is a time where we need to make sure we are working together to find common ground to address issues," she said. "This is not a time for grandstanding."

Lightfoot, Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx and the Cook County Circuit Court chief judge were all invited to attend the meeting. But, the mayor had no legal obligation to attend.

The mayor previously told allies to skip the virtual meeting.

Lopez said this is the first time City Council has held such a meeting since Richard J. Daley was mayor. He was last in office in 1976.
Copyright © 2021 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.