Greising: Lightfoot’s Fiery Rhetoric Isn’t a Strategy for Dealing With Chicago’s Surge in Crime

Lori Lightfoot's over-the-top rhetoric about criminal suspects and their guilt or innocence isn't a strategy for dealing with crime.

Lori Lightfoot addresses guests after being sworn in as Mayor of Chicago during a ceremony at the Wintrust Arena on May 20, 2019. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

BGA President David Greising writes every other week for the Chicago Tribune Opinion section.

Lori Lightfoot made her name as a candidate for mayor by criticizing Chicago’s police. Now running for reelection, she has pivoted toward sounding tough on crime.

In a high-profile instance this week, Lightfoot even talked tough on the rights of the accused. People charged with violent crime should be held in jail before trial, Lightfoot said, because “they’re guilty.”

Well, not quite. In fact, after someone is charged, there is a proceeding called a trial. The accused is presumed innocent. Judges and juries have the ultimate say on guilt or innocence, not tough-talking politicians seeking reelection.

Surely Lightfoot knows this. Most Americans do. Yet Lightfoot chose her over-the-top rhetoric out of apparent frustration with parts of the city’s criminal justice landscape she cannot control: Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans and a surge in violent crime that has vexed Chicago for the last two years.

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