Mayor Lori Lightfoot blasts ad that ‘darkens’ her image

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Tuesday denounced a recent television ad from an organization opposing the re-election of Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker on Tuesday because it said it featured racist imagery and used an image of her in which her skin appears darker than it is.

Lightfoot called the TV ad the “ultimate dog whistle propagated in support” of GOP gubernatorial candidate Darren Bailey, a state senator from Xenia. Speaking at an unrelated event, Lightfoot said the ad “darkens” her skin in footage from a speech she gave earlier this year at the City Club in Chicago in which she said: “It will be the summer of joy in Chicago”.

The 30-second ad warns in large white print that “CHICAGO VIOLENCE IS COMING TO THE SUBURBS” and shows a montage of CCTV and TV reports of various crimes in Chicago, including a shooting near the site of Puerto Rican Day. festivities at Humboldt Park in 2021.

“I don’t think there’s any dispute that I’m African American,” Lightfoot said Tuesday. “I’m black and I’m very proud of it, so why do you need to blacken my appearance to send this ad to suburban communities?”

The ad uses “the oldest racist tropes in existence” at a time when people need to come together to address issues facing the city and the rest of the state, she said.

“To make the scary black woman even blacker, to show scary black men on TV and say to the suburbs, which is white people, ‘You don’t want this coming to your town, so vote for Darren Bailey’, that is the height of racism and cynicism and we don’t need it anywhere – certainly not in our politics,” Lightfoot said.

The ad was created by the Independent Political Action Committee on Spending People Who Play By The Rules, a Florida-based PAC run by right-wing radio host Dan Proft and funded by Richard Uihlein, the Lake Forest packaging magnate and conservative megadonor.

Since the ad launched on August 15, People Who Play By The Rules said it has spent more than $1 million on TV ads in Chicago and other markets, according to state campaign finance records. .

In an email Tuesday night, Proft called Lightfoot’s allegation of racism a ‘crazy claim’ by a politician trying to distract from Chicago’s crime problems and denied the ad had changed. Lightfoot’s skin tone.

“We didn’t do anything to his pigmentation, just like we didn’t do anything to the pigmentation of our pasty governor breath,” Proft said in the statement. “The video of Lightfoot was pulled from the web of his speech at the City Club.”

Uihlein gave the PAC $8 million in the Republican primary, much of which was spent helping Bailey by attacking the GOP credentials of Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, one of Bailey’s main opponents in the race. at six. Although the PAC is prohibited from coordinating directly with a candidate, Uihlein has also donated more than $9 million directly to Bailey’s campaign.

Since the primary, the Uline packaging supplies founder has donated $20 million to Proft’s committee, but nothing to Bailey’s campaign, according to state records.

Although the committee supports Bailey’s candidacy, her campaign noted in a statement Tuesday that she had “no communication or control” over the PAC.

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Bailey’s spokesman Joe DeBose said Pritzker and Lightfoot have control over crime plaguing Chicago “and should be more concerned about those killed and burned in the city.”

The ad also warns that because of Pritzker, “Chicago lawlessness will soon be law statewide,” a nod to a 700-page provision of the law on safety, liability, fairness and fairness today, or SAFE-T Act, which instituted a host of criminal justice reforms in Illinois.

Proponents of the legislation say the reforms were aimed at creating a fairer criminal justice system, while opponents believe the reforms will weaken law enforcement and embolden criminals. A provision of the SAFE-T law highlighted in the announcement is a measure that ends cash bail in January.

According to the announcement, the suspects will be “released” if charged with a myriad of violent offenses, including kidnapping and theft. But proponents of the provision say the ad’s claim is “demonstrably untrue”.

“The ad claims the law will ‘free’ those charged with offenses such as kidnapping and theft – but in fact the law allows courts to detain those charged with these offenses if they present a flight risk,” the Chicago Appleseed Center said. for Fair Courts said in a statement last week.

Like other major US cities, gun violence in Chicago has increased significantly since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020, but has seen reductions over the past year.

Through Sunday, Chicago’s 425 homicides jumped 33% from the same period in 2019 when 319 people were killed, but murders fell 18% in the same period from the last year, according to official Chicago police statistics. Shooting incidents with at least one victim killed or not killed by gunshots are down 18% from last year, but up 34% since 2019, statistics show.

Gorner reported from Springfield.

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