Chicago investigating officers 'lounging' during unrest

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Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush looks on as Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks during a news conference in Chicago on Thursday afternoon, June 11, 2020, about a group of Chicago police officers in the congressman's campaign office while looters hit nearby stores. More than a dozen officers and supervisors from the Chicago Police were captured on video "lounging" inside a congressional campaign office on the city's South Side as people vandalized and stole from nearby businesses while protests and unrest spread across the city in late May, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Thursday. (Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)

CHICAGO – More than a dozen Chicago police officers and supervisors were captured on video “lounging” inside a burglarized congressional campaign office and even appeared to be making popcorn and brewing coffee as people vandalized and stole from nearby businesses as protests and unrest spread across the city, a visibly angry Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Thursday.

U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, a Democrat whose district includes much of the city's South Side and southern suburbs, said his staff first viewed the video and he brought it to Lightfoot on Wednesday.

The footage was taken on May 31 and early June 1, as police received widespread reports of vandalism, theft and arson in neighborhoods on the city's South and West sides, officials said. Chicago, like other U.S. cities, saw large protests overshadowed by criminal activity in the days following George Floyd's death in custody after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into the black man's neck for several minutes.

Lightfoot, who described herself as “angry” and “disgusted” by the actions shown on video, said the department's Internal Affairs division and the Civilian Office of Police Accountability are investigating.

Lightfoot, who showed the media screen grabs from video footage that has not yet been made public, said the officers shown have not yet been identified. Police from around the city were dispatched to the South and West sides in response to unrest during the first weekend in May, making that task more challenging.

Images shown to reporters during a press conference included one officer lying on his back on a couch in Rush's office. Others are shown resting their heads on desktops or seated with protective helmets beside them as they look at cellphones.

Rush said the officers appeared to be relaxing inside the office that was broken into earlier in the day, still sounding like he could not believe what unfolded on the video.

“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," he said. "Within their sight and within their reach.”