By: Mark Glennon*
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Thursday defended the city’s ban on protests near her home and the huge police deployments needed for that. She said this:
I have a right to make sure my home is secure.
That words so simple, so innocuous and so true could raise as many core issues as they do says so much that’s extraordinary about the circumstances we are in. Those issues go far beyond Lightfoot and Chicago.
Ironically, Lightfoot began her answer by saying, “This is a different time like no other,” She repeated that.
Indeed they are, but for far different reasons than she explained. It’s not the inordinate number of threats she gets, deplorable as they are, which was her explanation.
In no other time would the most obvious and immediate response be necessary, which we’ve seen in comments here and in social media, mostly to the effect of “What about us? We all have a right to be secure in our homes.”
Nothing in the social contract between people and their government is more fundamental than government’s duty to provide safety and security. But in Chicago and many cities across the country, millions of Americans have trembled in their homes and watched their workplaces looted or destroyed while unwilling or incapable government looked aside.
Special security for public officials makes sense because their circumstances have put them at particularly high risks that we should not ask them to face. But haven’t millions of Americans been also now been thrust into circumstances more dangerous than anybody in a civil society should be asked to face?
That, for starters, makes our times so different.
That’s what makes Lightfoot’s answer so incomplete.
The mobs’ tactic of targeting homes of those they don’t like is now common. Politicians, police officials, corporate executives and journalists now often have their homes threatened. Pittsburgh’s mayor and the U.S. Postmaster’s homes were among the past week’s targets.
Who is to blame for that?
Homes should be completely off-limits, even for peaceful protests. Blame the protesters themselves, first, for violating that rule. They may or may not be within their First Amendment rights. That shouldn’t matter. It’s just wrong, and there are plenty of other places to protest.
But blame the public figures, too, who have stood silent on the new normal. Why hasn’t that trend been denounced universally? Lightfoot is among many politicians who should be forced to answer. In fact, the general question of allowing protests that target homes was in the question put to Lightfoot on Thursday, but she ignored it.
And then there are guns.
Lightfoot routinely blames Chicago’s violence on weak federal gun control laws, but her comments about the home actually are as strong an endorsement the Second Amendment as you can find. Lightfoot, again, is hardly alone on that. Countless officeholders across the nation who have stood silent about today’s violence are the most vocal opponents of firearms and mocked that St. Louis couple who waived guns at trespassers who threatened their home.
Some criticism of Lightfoot should be directed at her in particular. The police force needed to protect her home has indeed been huge – as many as 140 officers on some evenings – who could be focused instead on the city’s violence. Why shouldn’t she move to one of the many high-rises near City Hall that could be protected at far less cost? One could be protected easily with as few as 20 cops, says Chicago’s Fraternal Order of Police president.
Lightfoot, like so many politicians, could long ago have helped undermine the mob’s confidence and credibility but chose too often to stand down. What happened after she removed the Grant Park Columbus statue which the target of what video clear shows was a pre-planned attack? They used exactly the same tactic, again captured on video, in Sunday’s melee downtown.
Lightfoot should name enablers’ names. She has criticized lax prosecutions but refused to call out, by name, the primary culprit in Chicago — Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx – who Lightfoot endorsed for that office. Black Lives Matter Chicago openly defends looting as reparations, yet their name has never crossed Lightfoot’s lips. And heaven forbid that she would challenge her own Democratic party for its complete disregard of city violence. In the major, prime time speeches during its convention, not a word was said about it.
Lightfoot, in her Thursday comments, did go on to say everybody has a right to be safe in their homes. That certainly includes her own home, and threats to her or anybody else are unforgivable.
But what makes “this a time like no other” isn’t those threats. It’s violence as a form of protest in general, and our government’s indifference to it. Until she and every other politician address that, their defense of their own homes will be incomplete.
*Mark Glennon is founder of Wirepoints.