A controversial Chicago candidate urged police to tackle fleeing suspects to “hunt them down like a rabbit” during the first mayoral debate ahead of February’s municipal election.
“Someone runs, chases someone on foot or in a car, that officer should be able to chase them and chase them like a rabbit,” Willie Wilson said Thursday during the debate.
Wilson, twice failed mayoral candidate, prominent local businessman and philanthropist, previously grabbing headlines for donating over $1 million worth of gasoline to Chicago residents.
During the debate, he criticized incumbent Lori Lightfoot, urging the Democrat to “take the handcuffs off the police” after a year of high homicide rates in Chicago.
Mrs. Lightfoot told reporters after the debate that she was taken aback by the comment, saying it dated back to the era of Chicago police chief John Burge, who, as The Independent he has reportedhad a long history of abusing and torturing black men in police custody.
“For a mayoral candidate to say we have to take the handcuffs off the police and let them hunt human beings like rabbits is an extraordinary thing,” she said. “I condemn you utterly and utterly.”
Wilson, meanwhile, said Illinois politician he stood by his statements and that the violence in Chicago was a “personal” matter, because one of his sons was shot dead.
“If someone kills another person, the police must pursue the perpetrators at all costs,” said the businessman. said in a written statement.
2022 among Chicago’s most violent years since the peak of the crime wave in the 1990s, although a Crain’s Chicago Business analyze found that most homicides were concentrated in historically impoverished neighborhoods. Chicago’s wealthiest areas have seen record drops in homicides.
Policing has been a central issue in Chicago, which is under a federal consent decree regulating its police practices since 2019. The ordinance fell through after a long history of CPD misconduct, including the 2014 cover-up of evidence in the shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.
Ms Lightfoot, former chairman of the Chicago Police Board, has faced criticism for doing too much and too little to check police abuses.
In June, after several police shootings, a new policy it was revealed prohibiting officers from chasing fleeing persons or suspects during calls about misdemeanors.
The mayor is also controversial defended The CPD’s decision not to fire an officer linked to the right-wing group Proud Boys and allowed several Chicago police officers to fire circumvent a city vaccine mandate.
Policing was a hot topic during the mayoral debate of other candidates as well.
Brandon Johnson, a public school teacher with the support of some of the city’s unions, argued that Chicago has one of the best-funded police departments in the country but still fights crime, pointing to the need to invest in other community services. .
“Actually, you need to invest in people. It’s pretty straightforward,” he said. said. “There is a direct correlation between youth employment and reduced violence.”