Daily US Times: On 20 May 2019, freshly-elected Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot delivered her inauguration speech to a cheerful audience.
It was imbued with promises of fundamental change – solutions to government corruption, tailored care for blighted neighborhoods and endemic violent crime, an ambitious agenda for tackling deep, notorious faults in the city.
Lightfoot, Chicago’s first Black woman and openly gay mayor, said: “For years they’ve said Chicago ain’t ready for reform. Well, get ready because reform is here.”
Very prominently, the former federal prosecutor pledged to reform the Chicago Police Department (CPD), promising to “continue the hard but essential work of forging partnerships between police officers and the community premised on mutual respect, accountability and a recognition that the destinies of police and community are inextricably intertwined”.
Implementing police reform seemed like a perfect task for the Chicago mayor given one of her prior roles, leading the city’s special task force on police accountability and reform.
Lightfoot issued a scathing report on the department in 2016, addressing broken trust between police and community and noting: “A painful but necessary reckoning is upon us.”
It urged sweeping change and backed a “widely held belief the police have no regard for the sanctity of life when it comes to people of color”.
But sweeping change awaits and almost two years into office, the mayor is under fire, accused of back-pedaling on accountability and reform while botching some high-profile cases involving police killing or misconduct.