Chicago police officer shooting is biggest test of Mayor Lightfoot so far

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Mayor Lori Lightfoot is facing one of the biggest challenges of her political career: the murder of a Chicago police officer during a time of police reform. And while she has her critics, others are saying this is no time for finger pointing.

At the scene where the two officers were shot, balloons were tied to a tree in a somber reminder of the violence that took the life of Officer Ella French and left her partner clinging to life. Mayor Lightfoot is now walking a political tightrope.

"This probably the biggest challenge in terms of policing for the mayor so far. She has to balance the concern that she has for the community, the concerns she has for the police department," ABC7 Political Analyst Laura Washington said.

RELATED: 2 charged, 1 with murder, in fatal shooting of CPD Officer Ella French during traffic stop

As part of the Community Safety Team, 15th Ward Alderman Ray Lopez said French and her partner had sat around a table in his ward office a few months ago. Lopez called what happened to them "horrific," but he suggested that perhaps it was not unexpected, given the political climate.

"Criminals feel emboldened to attack whomever willingly, without regard for who they are, whether they are citizen or officer, and I think a lot of that falls on the political rhetoric that has led up to this point," Lopez said.

The officers at the hospital made their own statement to Mayor Lightfoot when she arrived on the 7th floor to visit the wounded officer.

A photo sent to ABC7 Eyewitness News by the Fraternal Order of Police President purportedly captured a moment when the officers turned their back on the mayor. The FOP said she was just out of sight on the left.

The mayor's office issued a statement Monday afternoon that said, in part: "In a time of tragedy, emotions run high and that is to be expected. The mayor spoke to a range of officers that tragic night and sensed the overwhelming sentiment was about concern for their fallen colleagues."

16th Ward Alderman Stephanie Coleman said the impact of decades of disinvestment is a contributing factor to violence.

"And I don't think that it is fair for two years of the mayor's leadership and two years of this administration to be blamed for what, years of disinvestment," Coleman said.

"I don't think it's a time where we shouldn't be pointing fingers, and blaming anyone other than those that are responsible for this senseless murder," said Ald. Chris Taliaferro, who represents the 29th Ward and chairs the Committee on Public Safety.

Lightfoot also reiterated the call for this to be a time for the city to come together.
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