george floyd protests

Chicago Police Caught Sleeping in U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush’s Office During Protests

Representative Bobby Rush. Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP/Shutterstock

New York Is Committed to Covering This Essential Moment
We’ve removed our paywall from this and other stories about police brutality and systemic racism. Consider becoming a subscriber to support our journalists.

Of the many acts of police misconduct caught on camera since the death of George Floyd, perhaps the most absurd is one reported by Illinois representative Bobby Rush, who informed Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot that police officers were sleeping in his campaign office as demonstrators broke into nearby buildings almost two weeks ago. On Thursday, Lightfoot held a press conference showing stills of Chicago Police Department officers “relaxing” in Rush’s office on the city’s South Side and putting their feet on his desk on June 1, the day after the strip mall in which it is located was broken into by demonstrators. “One was asleep on my couch,” Rush said.

“They even had the unmitigated gall to make coffee for themselves and to pop popcorn, my popcorn, in my microwave while looters were tearing apart businesses,” Rush added. “Within their sight and within their reach.” The footage shows as many as 13 police officers, including three supervisors, remaining in his office for a total of four hours, as property damage occurred nearby.

Lightfoot apologized to Rush, a founder of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, calling the officers’ behavior a “personal embarrassment to me.” She added, “Looting was going on, buildings were being burned, officers were on the front lines truly taking a beating with bottles and pipes, and these guys were lounging — in a congressman’s office. The utter contempt and disrespect is hard to imagine.”

Lightfoot said the city would take “the strongest possible action, particularly with supervisors,” though she did not call for the officers to be fired. Other Chicago police actions in the past two weeks currently under review include a video in which an officer pulls a woman from her car by her hair and places his knee on her neck, and an incident in which Chicago Police Board president Ghian Foreman, who oversees the panel determining officer discipline, was allegedly hit with batons by multiple officers.

Chicago PD Caught Sleeping in U.S. Rep. Office Amid Protests