Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot urged calm ahead of the release Friday of video depicting Memphis officers’ fatal beating of Tyre Nichols.
Lightfoot acknowledged the footage would “be really tough videos for people to watch, and people are going to have a lot of emotional reaction to them. But I hope that emotional reaction doesn’t lead to destruction of property, acts of violence, or other things that frankly undermine, I think, the strength of our city.”
Five officers have been charged with murder in Nichols’ death.
Speaking at an unrelated news conference Friday afternoon prior to the video’s release, Lightfoot urged peaceful protest, but said the city was prepared and “had activated security plans while we see this thing play out,” and that officials had done “extensive outreach to civil rights leaders across our city, faith community leaders, business community leaders, since we understood that video was going to be released” in preparation for possible protest.
“We learned a lot from” the violence that followed peaceful protests of the death of George Floyd, Lightfoot said.
Chicago’s commercial corridors were rocked in the summer of 2020 when peaceful demonstrations escalated twice, testing Lightfoot’s administration, Chicago police resources, and the relationship between the mayor and the Cook County State’s Attorney. The first was between May 30 and June 2, with widespread reports of looting, smashed windows and ransacked stores. The Illinois National Guard was called in to reinforce the Chicago Police Departments, and access to the Loop was limited. Again in August, following the police shooting of a suspected criminal in Englewood, hundreds swept through the Magnificent Mile and other parts of downtown Chicago again looting stores and smashing windows. 13 officers were injured, and two people were shot.
The city’s response drew criticism in an inspector general’s report.
“We have no actual intelligence that anything untoward is going to happen here,” but said monitoring would continue.
“Would I have liked that Memphis released these videos during the daylight hours and not on a Friday? You bet,” she continued. Officials planned to release the footage at 6 p.m. Central. “I’ve had conversations with lots of mayors across the country this week that are also feeling the anxiety. But number one is we must express ourselves peacefully. That’s what we do to honor the legacy of Mr. Nichols.”
Some community groups announced plans for vigils in Chicago Friday evening.