Chicago mayor spent over $281 million in virus relief funds on police payroll

Activists don't want so much of Chicago's $1.2 billion in relief going to cops, even to reimburse them.

The revelation that Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot spent $281.5 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds on personnel costs for the Chicago Police Department is prompting outrage from local activists and citizens alike. 

“We asked for assurances they wouldn’t spend it all on police,” Alderman Daniel La Spata said Wednesday. “That’s the last thing people wanted, to infuse hundreds of millions more dollars into the police department right now.”

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is reportedly under fire for spending over $280 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds on personnel costs for the Chicago Police Department. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

The figure came to light after Lightfoot asked for City Council approval to transfer $65 million in unspent federal funds into the 2021 budget. 

Activists have planned a news conference for Thursday to speak out against such a large portion of the $1.2 billion in coronavirus relief funds from the federal government going to Chicago’s police department. 

Author-poet-professor Eve L. Ewing broke down the allocation in simpler terms on Instagram.

“Let’s do some math, wrote Ewing. “Let’s say the federal government gave Chicago $100 for COVID relief. This is the equivalent of the police getting $69.48, public health getting $4.47, the office of emergency management (which oversees 911 and 311 among other things) getting $1.98, family and support services (which includes youth services, senior services, support for unhoused people, support for vets, workforce support and more) getting 50 count em 50 cents.” 

“A budget is a moral document,” she concluded. “And this right here? Is not right.”

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The Office of Management and Budget stated on Wednesday that funds were reimbursed to the CPD for costs incurred early in the pandemic, including wellness checks on residents, airport security increases, plus security at the McCormick Place field facility and virus testing sites. 

Furious Chicagoans quickly took to Twitter to push back against Lightfoot’s actions and the city’s explanation. One wrote: “The city of Chicago got $403 million in COVID relief money and Lori Lightfoot gave $280 million or 65% to the police. If that doesn’t make you see that the police are actively depriving our city of resources and causing economic insecurity then… idk what else to tell you.” 

The mayor, a Democrat, had not directly commented by Thursday morning. 

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