- Congressman Bobby Rush said security footage from his office in Chicago showed police officers “lounging,” popping popcorn, making coffee, and sleeping while businesses in the surrounding area were looted.
- Rush said he was informed that a burglary had taken place at his office on June 1, but security footage from that night showed at least a dozen officers, including three supervisors, “relaxing” in his workplace.
- Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Police Superintendent David Brown condemned the officers and promised to hold them accountable and investigate the incident.
- However, Chicago police union President John Catanzara called the press conference “despicable” and claimed that the police had entered the office after the looting was over.
U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) said Thursday that security footage showed at least a dozen Chicago police officers drinking coffee, making popcorn, and sleeping on furniture in his office as nearby businesses were looted during protests over the killing of George Floyd.
Rush, a long-time congressman famous for co-founding the Chicago Black Panther Party, made the announcement at a press conference alongside Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who displayed stills of the video, which has not been released to the public.
At the conference, Rush said he was notified that his campaign office had been burglarized during an outbreak of civil unrest two weeks ago.
But when he reviewed the security footage from the incident, Rush said he saw the officers, including three supervisors, “lounging” in his office with their feet rested on his desks and one officer asleep on his couch.
“They even had the unmitigated gall to go and make coffee for themselves and to pop popcorn, my popcorn, in my microwave while looters were tearing apart businesses within their sight and within their reach,” Rush said.
“They were in a mode of relaxation and they did not care about what was happening to businesspeople, to this city. They didn’t care. They absolutely didn’t care.”
Mayor Lightfoot Responds
Following Rush’s remarks, Mayor Lightfoot condemned the police and apologized to the congressman.
“That’s a personal embarrassment to me,” she said. “I’m sorry that you and your staff even had to deal with this incredible indignity.”
“Their conduct will confirm the perception that too many people on the South and the West Side were left to fend for themselves,” she continued. “That police don’t care if Black and brown communities are looted and burned.”
Lightfoot later promised that the incident would be “thoroughly” investigated and that the state’s attorney and U.S. attorney will review the case. She also said that all officers involved would be identified and that she wanted “the strongest possible action” to be taken.
“I can tell you one thing for certain, not one of these officers will be allowed to hide behind the badge and go on and act like nothing ever happened,” she said. “Not anymore. Not in my city, not in your city.”
Police Officials Respond
Police leadership also castigated the officers and said they would hold them accountable.
“This kind of conduct means that if you sleep during a riot, what do you do on a regular shift when there’s no riot? What are you doing when there’s no crisis?” said Police Superintendent David Brown. “I’m not playing with you that I mean what I say when I say we’ll hold you accountable.”
“Move, get out of the way, but we are going to uphold the nobility of this profession. This conduct is not representative.”
Brown’s remarks were also echoed by First Deputy Superintendent Anthony Riccio, who called the officers’ actions “completely indefensible.”
“We had 120 officers injured that night that they sat there,” he said. “We had 167 vehicles damaged or completely destroyed the night these officers sat there, and countless businesses damaged and looted at the same time that these officers sat there,”
“The same time that these 13 officers were popping popcorn, taking a nap, relaxing inside this office, I was standing shoulder to shoulder with hundreds of other officers on State Street as we got pelted with rocks from rioters.”
However, Chicago police union President John Catanzara called the press conference “despicable,” and claimed that police leadership had incorrect information.
Catanzara asserted that, based on the light outside the windows in the images, it was early morning and the looting that had taken place in the area was over by the time the officers arrived. He said that they were simply tired and bored from guarding the office all night.
“It’s disgusting that they would challenge the honor of those (officers) that were in the office that night, as if they would stand there and let people die,” he said. “The rioting was done. The whole mall was looted on Sunday.”
Mayor Lightfoot said the footage shows that the officers first entered the office at 1 a.m. on Sunday, June 1, and remained there for four to five hours.
The Chicago Police Department has yet to comment but announced that it was launching an internal investigation into the occurrence in a statement posted to Twitter Thursday.
See what others are saying: (The Chicago Tribune) (NBC) (CNN)
Mother and Boyfriend Charged After Abandoning 3 Children in Apartment With Sibling’s Remains
Authorities said the malnourished children had been living in the unit without their parents for months.
Abandoned Children Discovered in Houston
Police in Texas arrested a mother and her boyfriend on Tuesday after finding the woman’s three children abandoned in an apartment unit with the remains of their sibling.
Authorities found the 7-, 10-, and 15-year-old boys on Sunday when the teen called police to report that his brother had been dead for a year and that his body was in the unit.
When authorities arrived at the scene, they found the children living in “deplorable conditions.” Police also found the skeletal remains of an 8-year-old, who they emphasized had been decomposing for an extended period of time.
Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said the boys were fending for each other, with the eldest doing his best to care for the younger ones. According to the teen, his parents hadn’t been living in the apartment with them for months.
Gonzales called it one of the most shocking cases he had ever seen in all his years in law enforcement, and many are now asking how these kids could have been suffering for so long without anyone ever noticing.
Signs That Went Unnoticed
The Daily Beast reported that the kids hadn’t been attending school since May 2020, claiming that the school even conducted an unsuccessful home visit in September of that year.
On top of that, the children had been without power for several weeks, with one neighbor telling local reporters that the teen would often charge his phone at her place.
Another neighbor, Erica Chapman, said she had once found the teen sleeping on a playground slide, so she gave him some food and drinks.
“I asked him if he was hungry. He said, ‘Yeah,’ and I brought him out some food and some drinks,” Chapman told KHOU.
She said he “wouldn’t talk about his parents,” and she didn’t push because she wanted him to feel safe coming to her if he needed food. Chapman added that she would drop off food at the apartment sometimes but said it was hard to tell what was going on inside.
Police also described a foul odor coming from the unit, which a different neighbor said she complained to management about more than once. That woman claimed the smell was so vile, she could not turn on her air conditioning.
Dianne Davis, who lived in the complex for two years, told The Houston Chronicle that the building manager performs regular inspections on the units, with the most recent one happening last week.
“How come they couldn’t detect this?” Davis told the paper. “How could that not have been found?”
Mother and Boyfriend Face Charges
According to Child Protective Services (CPS), the agency does have a history with the family, but there was no active investigation at the time the kids were discovered.
After they were found, the boys were treated at a hospital and placed with CPS while the agency seeks emergency custody of them.
At the hospital, doctors discovered fractures in the 7-year-old face and said two of the three boys were malnourished. Meanwhile, the medical examiner’s office said the deceased child suffered multiple blunt force injuries and ruled his death a homicide.
Police located the mother, 35-year-old Gloria Williams, and her boyfriend, 31-year-old Brian Coulter, on Sunday. They were interviewed and initially released without charges.
ABC13 reported that the teen texted his mother, who lived just 15 minutes, before calling the police.
On Tuesday, the couple was finally arrested while allegedly reading articles about themselves at a library. Williams, faces multiple charges, including injury to a child by omission and tampering with evidence involving a human corpse.
Meanwhile, Coulter was charged with murder over the death of the child, though both he and Williams are expected to face more charges as investigators continue to unpack the details of this case.
See what others are saying: (The Houston Chronicle) (The Daily Beast) (The Washington Post)
Man Spent COVID Relief Loan on $58,000 Pokemon Card, Feds Say
The man is facing a wire fraud charge, which carries a max sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison, along with a $250,000 fine.
COVID Relief Funds Used on Pokemon Card
Authorities have accused a man in Georgia of misusing COVID-19 relief funds, claiming that he spent $57,789 on a single Pokemon card.
Prosecutors said Vinath Oudomsine made false statements about the gross revenue his business earns and the number of workers he employs when he applied for aid authorized under the CARES Act.
On his July 2020 application, Oudomsine allegedly claimed he had 10 employees and 12-month gross revenues of $235,000.
The following month, he was given about $85,000 from the Small Business Administration (SBA), which means he spent nearly all of the money on the rare card.
Authorities have given few details about the specific card purchased, though they have said Oudomsine was charged with wire fraud and is expected to appear in court on Thursday.
The charge carries a max sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison, along with a $250,000 fine.
Misuse of COVID Relief Funds
Oudomsine is far from the first person to face charges for fraud related to small business loans issued amid the pandemic. Others who received relief funds have been accused of spending the money on Lamborghinis, nights at strip clubs, and even an alpaca farm, among other purchases.
In fact, the first person to be charged with fraudulently seeking a pandemic relief loan was recently sentenced to 56 months in prison following a nationwide search after the man faked his own death.
According to The Washington Post, a federal watchdog said this month that the SBA overpaid $4.5 billion in grants to self-employed people and that “no system of controls was in place to flag applications with flawed or illogical information.”
On top of that, the SBA inspector general determined earlier this year that the agency rushed to send out billions of dollars in loans through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) “at the expense of controls” that could have blocked inappropriate aid.
In a statement on Sunday, the agency said that under the Biden administration, it has worked with Congress and the inspector general to add antifraud measures. Meanwhile, defenders of pandemic relief programs have argued that flagged loans and grants represent only a small fraction of the distributed aid that has been critical to small businesses and their pandemic recovery.
See what others are saying: (NPR)(USA Today)(The Washington Post)
FDA Authorizes Moderna and J&J COVID Vaccine Boosters, Approves Mix-and-Match Doses
The approval will allow at-risk Americans who received Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to get any booster six months after their initial series and all Johnson & Johnson recipients 18 and older to do the same two months after their single-shot dose.
New FDA Authorization
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday authorized boosters shots of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines and approved a mix-and-match strategy that will allow people who got one company’s shot to get a booster from a different maker.
The decision paves the way for millions of more at-risk Americans to get extra protection, and not just certain Pfizer recipients as previously approved by the FDA.
Under the authorization, people who received Moderna or Pfizer can get any one of the three booster shots six months after completing their initial series if they are 65 and older, at high risk of severe COVID, or face increased exposure because of their work.
Meanwhile, all J&J recipients 18 and older can get any of the approved vaccines two months after they received the one-shot jab.
Hazy Recommendations, For Now
Notably, the FDA did not recommend a certain combination of vaccines, nor did the agency say whether or not it would be more effective for people to stick with their original vaccine maker for their booster.
The new authorizations draw on a study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which found that there are no safety concerns with mixing boosters and that vaccine combinations were at least as effective in stimulating antibodies as matched vaccines.
In the case of J&J recipients, the NIH found that people actually had a higher boost from mixing either Moderna or Pfizer boosters.
However, some of the scientists who worked on the study said it should not be used to recommend one combination over another because the research was limited.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which determines vaccine recommendations, could issue more guidance on when and whether people should switch vaccine makers for their booster shots.
An advisory panel for the agency is meeting Thursday to discuss the new FDA authorizations and recommendations.
Once the panel makes its decision, the CDC director has the final say on the guidelines. If the agency agrees with the FDA’s decisions, the booster shots could be rolled out as soon as this weekend.