City of Chicago Employees:
These past few days have been among the most challenging our city has ever faced. Our Chicago family has gone through–and continues to go through–a range of emotions. First was the shock, grief, and anger at the murder of George Floyd. What is most heartbreaking is the clear evidence that America’s original sin, slavery and the oppression of the Black body, persists today, not insidiously or secretly, but openly.
Then came the desire to speak up, speak out, to raise our voices against this injustice, and to make the world hear our righteous indignation. As I said earlier in this evening’s State of the City address, we know that the anger on our streets isn’t just about George Floyd. It’s about Laquan McDonald, Rekia Boyd, Jon Burge’s victims, the 1919 race riots, Fred Hampton, and the countless other victims of state violence against Black people. It’s about racism, intolerance, and brutality here in our own city over decades; issues that motivated me to run for mayor and that I was elected to address. I, like all of you and the many peaceful protesters who came out over the past few days, share a heartache and a thirst for change.
Then came the sadness, heartache and fear at seeing our city ripped apart by the relatively few among the crowds who perverted this moment to their criminal aims. No one has the right to do what we are seeing in our city. No one can burn our homes, wreck our livelihoods and wreak havoc. We saw officers injured, storefronts smashed and looted, cars burned, property vandalized, people shot. This is criminal conduct that sets back our collective work to build a better and more inclusive city. I cannot stand by and watch that happen.
But through it all, I have tremendous pride in seeing how you have risen to this moment. Our police officers have performed honorably and professionally in the face of heinous provocation, putting themselves at great personal risk. Our Fire Department has been working around the clock saving lives, homes, and businesses. Streets & San and CDOT workers have been out in the streets alongside them–deeply involved in the response. OEMC, CTA, CPS, BACP, DOB, and more; I am so proud that you are part of our family and that I get to call myself your mayor.
But the emotions I feel most deeply, at the root of my soul, are resolve, determination and commitment to making sure we come out of this crisis a stronger and better city. Working together, we will restore our wounded neighborhoods, fulfill our commitment to meaningful reform, and confront the entrenched legacy of racism head on.
Tomorrow, we will move into phase three to Cautiously Reopen our city and on June 8, we are on track to reopen many of our city services. I’ve attached a press release with the latest transit guidance as many of you return to work over the next several days. Right now, what we need is for our businesses to reopen and our employees to get back to work in a way that is supportive to both their health and their safety. And as with everything we do, we need to do with equity and inclusion as our North Stars.
Loving this city means showing up to protect our neighbors, our businesses, and our values. The arc of the universe only bends toward justice if we work together to dismantle these systems of oppression and build a better tomorrow. I am eager to continue building with you.
Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot