[Warning: Footage is disturbing.]
The top government lawyer of the city of Chicago is going out the door. Local outlets report that Mark Flessner announced his resignation on Sunday. He made clear that that he is leaving because of blowback from video showing police raid the home of Anjanette Young, an innocent social worker who was surprised while naked during the incident. Nonetheless, he insisted to Chicago Tribune reporter Gregory Pratt that he did not attempt to hide the footage.
NEWS: Chicago’s top lawyer, Mark Flessner, has resigned his position amid controversy over the Anjanette Young raid. “I’m resigning because of the firestorm around the whole tape thing,” Flessner told me. “I’m being accused of trying to hide it, which is not true.”
— Gregory Pratt (@royalpratt) December 20, 2020
Footage of the February 21, 2019 raid showed Chicago police executing a search warrant at her apartment. Young was naked. She protested her innocence to officers. In a 2019 complaint she filed, the plaintiff asserted she was left naked, or almost naked for 45 minutes before she was allowed to get clothes. From the federal complaint obtained by Law&Crime:
26. Plaintiff asked several times if she could put clothing on since she was still handcuffed and completely naked.
27. After an extended period of time, one of the Defendant Chicago Police Officer grabbed a blanket and attempted to cover Plaintiff, however this covering was quite inadequate, and her body was still exposed.
28. Finally, after forty-five minutes to an hour, a Unknown (female) Chicago Police Officer was called to Plaintiff’s home, to help the Plaintiff find clothing and get dressed.
Police did not even have the right home. They were looking for a name who did not live on the premises, even though police had initially claimed that he did.
Cops balked at CBS Chicago’s Freedom of Information Act request for bodycam footage of the raid. Young’s complaint resulted in a court order for cops to turn it over, however. The City of Chicago finally tried to to obtain a court order to stop CBS from airing the video, but a federal judge turned that request down. Amid this tug of war, the city sought sanctions against Young and her attorney Keenan Saulter, but walked it back in two steps, first saying they did not mean to seek sanctions against Young, and then deciding to stop seeking sanctions against Saulter altogether.
The case landed squarely on a cultural fissure. Young is Black.
“If this had been a young woman in Lincoln Park by herself in her home naked, a young white woman — let’s just be frank – if the reaction would have been the same? I don’t think it would have been,” Saulter has said. “I think [officers] would have saw that woman, rightfully so, as someone who was vulnerable, someone who deserved protection, someone who deserved to have their dignity maintained. They viewed Ms. Young as less than human.”
Flessner’s resignation marks the first major departure over the raid and the ensuing tug of war for the footage. Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) issued an apology to Young in a press conference on Wednesday. Lightfoot had been running for mayor when the incident happened during the administration of predecessor Rahm Emanuel (D), but she has contradicted herself on when she first learned of the raid.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot acknowledged Thursday her staff alerted her to the raid in November 2019 — two days after the mayor said she learned of it just this week. https://t.co/cUeRIteoDS
— Chicago Sun-Times (@Suntimes) December 17, 2020
Jerry Lambe contributed to this report.
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