Lori Lightfoot elected Chicago mayor, will be 1st black woman and 1st openly gay person to hold post

Lori Lightfoot and Toni Preckwinkle had the first two spots in February’s election that saw a historic 14 candidates for mayor, leading to the runoff.

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Former federal prosecutor Lori Lightfoot defeated Toni Preckwinkle in a runoff for Chicago mayor Tuesday. She will be the first openly gay person and first black woman to lead the city.

The Associated Press called the race for Lightfoot shortly before 8 p.m. local time.

With over 91 percent of precincts in, Lightfoot led Preckwinkle 73.7 percent to 26.3 percent, according to the Chicago board of elections website.

Lightfoot pumped her fist in the air and the crowd cheered when she said, “Thank you Chicago!”

“In this election Toni and I were competitors, but our differences are nothing compared to what we can achieve together,” Lightfoot said. “Now that it’s over, I know we will work together for the city that we both love.”

“Today, you did more than make history,” Lightfoot said. “You created a movement for change.”

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Lori Lightfoot supporters react as she is projected Chicago’s next mayor at an election night party. Kamil Krzaczynski / AFP – Getty Images

 

Lightfoot, 56, who was an assistant U.S. attorney before she entered private practice, has never held elective office before.

The runoff election was bound to be historic, as either of the two candidates was going to be Chicago’s first black female mayor. The city is around 33 percent black, according to 2010 Census data.

Preckwinkle told supporters Tuesday evening that she called Lightfoot to congratulate her.

“This may not be the outcome we wanted, but while I may be disappointed, I’m not disheartened,” she said. “For one thing, this is clearly a historic night. Not long ago, two African-American women vying for this position would have been unthinkable.”

Lightfoot came in first in the February election that saw a record 14 candidates vying to succeed Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who did not seek re-election.

Preckwinkle, 72, a former schoolteacher who served on the Chicago City Council for 19 years before becoming Cook County Board president in 2011, came in second in the February race, garnering 16.1 percent of the vote to Lightfoot’s 17.5 percent.

They both beat William “Bill” Daley of the famous political family, whose father and brother each served as mayor for a combined total of more than 40 years.

Daley, who came in third with 14.8 percent of the vote, conceded that night and congratulated both women, saying “one of them will have the honor of being the next mayor of Chicago.”

Emanuel, who has been mayor since 2011, announced in Septemberthat he would not seek a third term.

Although a nonpartisan election, the candidates in the February election like Tuesday’s runoff were all attached in varying degrees to the Democratic Party. The Republican Party has virtually disappeared from the city.

Lightfoot seized on the outrage over the 2014 shooting of Laquan McDonald by a white police officer to launch her reformer campaign and suggested that Preckwinkle was attached to big-party politics.

Lightfoot said that as mayor, she would focus on investing in neighborhoods on the West and South Sides and bring transparency and accountability to City Hall. She also said she also wants to end City Hall corruption and restore people’s faith in government.

Preckwinkle, who leads Cook County’s Democratic Party, said that mayor “is not an entry-level job” and that “it’s easy to talk about change. It’s hard to actually do it.”

Both women expressed support for a casino in downtown Chicago, and for changing the state’s income tax system to a graduated tax, in which higher earners are taxed at a higher rate.

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Voters fill out their ballot at a polling place during a runoff election for mayoral candidates Toni Preckwinkle and Lori Lightfoot in Chicago, Illinois on April 2, 2019.Joshua Lott / Reuters

 

There were few Election Day problems, NBC Chicago reported. One precinct opened “exceptionally late” because of a delay caused by judges not showing up on time, but the board of elections said that it appeared all voters would be able to return by the close of polls, according to the station.

Lightfoot was endorsed by the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune newspapers, as well as U.S. Reps. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia and Robin Kelly, according to NBC Chicago.

Preckwinkle had the endorsement of several unions, including the Service Employees International Union state council, the Teamsters joint council and the Local 700 and other unions, as well as U.S. Reps. Jan Schakowsky, Bobby Rush and Danny Davis, NBC Chicago reported. Chance the Rapper also endorsed her.

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FLASHBACK: Ilhan Omar Asked Judge for Lighter Sentences for Nine Minnesota Men Plotting to Join ISIS

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Shortly after her historic election as the nation’s first Somali-American lawmaker, then State Rep. Ilhan Omar, now a member of Congress, asked a judge for lighter sentences in the trial of nine Minnesota men charged with planning to join ISIS.

In a November 2016 letter unearthed by conservative media this week, Omar wrote to Judge Michael Davis requesting “compassion” and a “restorative approach to justice” in his sentencing.

“Incarcerating 20-year-old men for 30 or 40 years is essentially a life sentence. Society will have no expectations of the to be 50 or 60-year-old released prisoners; it will view them with distrust and revulsion. Such punitive measures not only lack efficacy, they inevitably create an environment in which extremism can flourish, aligning with the presupposition of terrorist recruitment,” Omar said in her letter.

She was one of 13 individuals to write letters to Davis, who also received a letter from Minneapolis City Council member Abdi Warsame.

“The best deterrent to fanaticism is a system of compassion,” Omar continued. “We must alter our attitude and approach; if we truly want to affect change, we should refocus our efforts on inclusion and rehabilitation.”

Throughout her letter, Omar argued that the young men were tempted by Islamic extremism because of their “systematic alienation” from society, which should be countered through “inclusion and rehabilitation.”

“A long-term prison sentence for one who chose violence to combat direct marginalization is a statement that our justice system misunderstands the guilty,” she continued. “The most effective penance is making these men ambassadors of reform.”

Omar concluded her letter by telling Davis that his “ruling can set a precedent and has the potential to be a landmark case in addressing extremism.”

Two of the men received lighter sentences for cooperating with federal authorities, while the remaining seven all received at least ten years in prison. Guled Omar, who was one of the group’s leaders, received the most severe penalty of 35 years, and two of his fellow ringleaders each received a sentence of 30 years a piece.

Read Ilhan Omar’s full letter here

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Rep. Ilhan Omar pushes for release of jailed Muslim Brotherhood leader

Why is an American congresswoman advocating for an Islamist activist?

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Rep. Ilhan Omar — whose short tenure in Congress thus far has been rife with controversy — made a shocking appeal Tuesday, openly pushing for the release of a senior member of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.

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Omar took to Twitter Tuesday evening demanding that President Donald Trump call for the release of Hoda Abdelmonem, a senior member in the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s women’s affiliate.

I quickly confirmed that this was the same Abdelmonem who has for years been a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, which advocates for Islamist takeover of Egypt.

Abdelmonem remains an influential figure and a senior leader in the Islamist outfit, and the campaign for her release has been a top priority item for Muslim Brotherhood-aligned individuals, groups, and governments. Muslim Brotherhood-tied media networks such as Middle East Eye, Middle East Monitor, and Al Jazeera have dedicated nonstop coverage to this issue, often falsely portraying the Islamist activist as a human rights advocate. Muslim Brotherhood-tied campaigners in the U.S. have continued a full-court press for Abdelmonem’s release.

Additionally, these same entities all remain fiercely opposed to the rule of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who in 2013 ousted Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated former president in Cairo. So convincing the president to call for the release of their Islamist ally would arguably chip away at el-Sisi’s legitimacy.

After posting a photo of her meeting with pro-Muslim Brotherhood campaigners, Omar then doubled down on her push, retweeting this post linking to an Al Jazeera video that calls for Abdelmonem’s release:

Al Jazeera is the state-controlled, Islamist-promoting media network of the Qatari government, which uses slave labor and funds terrorist organizations throughout the Middle East. Al Jazeera regularly promotes Muslim Brotherhood leaders and groups, which seek to overthrow stable U.S. allies and install Islamist theocracies in their stead.

Since entering Congress, Rep. Omar has continued to show a preference for antagonistic U.S. adversaries and throwback Islamist leaders and groups, as opposed to U.S.-friendly Middle East nations and peaceful reform movements worldwide. She has become a regular on the CAIR speaking circuit. The terror-tied Islamist group raised mountains of cash for her congressional campaign.

The Muslim Brotherhood is classified as a terrorist organization in several nations, including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Russia, Egypt, and Bahrain. The group has spawned the likes of deceased Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS.

Republicans in Congress continue to push legislation and directly appeal to President Trump to classify the Muslim Brotherhood as a foreign terrorist organization, given its tendency for violence and the group’s extremist, anti-American philosophy.

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Man who was berated over his MAGA hat speaks out

starbucks-678x381The Starbucks on California Avenue in Palo Alto and a MAGA hat. Street photo from Google.

 

BY ALLISON LEVITSKY
Daily Post Staff Writer

It’s rare to see someone wearing a Make America Great Again hat on the Peninsula. In fact, it’s so unusual that a longtime Palo Alto resident named Victor — who was harassed at a local Starbucks over his MAGA hat — says he’s never seen anyone else wearing one in town.

But Victor, a 74-year-old retired technical writer who frequents the Starbucks at 361 California Ave., wears his red MAGA hat over his yarmulke just about every day that it doesn’t rain.

Mostly people don’t remark on it, though he sometimes gets a thumbs up. Sometimes passersby tell him he’s brave to wear it, to which Victor responds that one “shouldn’t have to have guts” to wear a hat supporting the president.

Victor said there’s an “atmosphere of fear” in Palo Alto around openly identifying oneself as a conservative or a Trump supporter.

“People have always been allowed to wear a (political) button or shirt,” Victor told the Post. “Now to wear a Trump button is considered a provocation.”

On two occasions strangers have accosted him about the hat, but both seemed “unbalanced,” he told the Post yesterday (April 3).

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Then, on Monday (April 1), 46-year-old Rebecca Parker Mankey approached him at Starbucks, asked him whether he was wearing a Trump hat and then turned to other customers and yelled repeatedly that he was a racist. Mankey didn’t return the Post’s requests for comment.

“I thought she was drunk or on drugs or something,” Victor said. “I’m surprised that the Starbucks manager or someone didn’t call the police with this woman raving in the story like that.”

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Thought it was an April Fools’ joke

For a moment, Victor thought Mankey was pulling an “April Fool kind of stunt,” since the confrontation took place on April 1.

It seemed particularly ironic that Mankey called Victor a Nazi, he said, since he is Jewish.

“I would call that just utterly irrational,” Victor said. “Anyone with a high school education should know about the Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan.”

And Mankey wrote on Facebook it was “really heartbreaking” that she was the only person yelling at Victor.

“She was unhappy that a mob didn’t form in Starbucks,” Victor said. “It’s a credit to the people at Starbucks.”

Mankey posted to Facebook what Victor said was an accurate account of the incident. The post was shared widely among conservatives on social media and made its way to Mankey’s employer, Gryphon Stringed Instruments.

Mankey was fired from her accounting job on Tuesday.

Mankey’s post noted that she wanted to find out “his name, where he lived, his wife’s name and where his kids went to school,” seeming to imply an intent to “dox” him, or publish identifying information about him with malicious intent.

In that way, Victor said the confrontation and its aftermath have been “almost like a fable” or parable.

“Here she is screaming, ‘I’ll destroy you,’ and she gets destroyed,” Victor said. “She doxed herself. I didn’t do anything.”

Says incident reflects division in country

Victor said the incident was indicative of an increasingly divisive political culture in the U.S., where families avoid talking politics at the dinner table and college students protest opposing views rather than listening and discussing the issues.

“When I was in college, you wanted to hear speakers of all different kinds,” Victor said. “America has really changed, and everyone whose head is screwed on right should fight this kind of thing.”

Victor particularly objects to progressives identifying themselves as part of the “resistance” to Trump.

“Trump didn’t come into office by a military coup d’etat,” Victor said. “It doesn’t acknowledge that we have what’s called a two-party system in America.”

Is Trump a racist?

Victor also maintains that Trump has never espoused racist ideas or promoted racist policies.

That includes the time in January 2018 that Trump asked why the U.S. was “having all these people from s***hole countries come here,” referring to Haiti and African nations.

“That’s his opinion. He’s allowed to have his opinion,” Victor said. “These are just ways of talking.”

For Victor, the same goes for Trump’s repeated references to some Mexican immigrants as rapists. In June 2015, for example, Trump said that Mexican immigrants were “bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

Victor said that Trump meant that if the U.S. lets in “millions of Mexicans without checking them,” some rapists are bound to cross the border.

“If someone says, ‘Yeah, I want to bring back segregation,’ that may be a racist thing,” Victor said. But Trump’s policies and outlandish comments haven’t met that standard, he argues.

But Victor said he’s happy to discuss the issues with anyone who wants to debate them — civilly.

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Texas Prosecutor Drops All Charges In 2015 Biker Shootout That Killed 9

APTOPIX Waco ShootingProsecutors in McLennan County, Texas, said that all remaining charges related to the deadly melee between rival motorcycle gangs outside a Waco restaurant in May 2015 would be dropped. The aftermath of the shooting is seen here. Jerry Larson/AP

 

In a 2015 shootout in the parking lot of a Waco, Texas, restaurant, nine people were killed and 20 were injured. After the gunfight, police arrested 177 bikers, and a grand jury indicted 155 of them on charges of organized crime.

But no single one will be held to account for the violence, McLennan County Criminal District Attorney Barry Johnson announced Tuesday, pointing the finger at his predecessor, who he said failed to determine the charges in which “the admissible evidence would support a verdict of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”

“I do not believe that it is a proper exercise of my judgment as District Attorney to proceed with the further prosecution of what I believe to have been an ill-conceived path that this District Attorney’s Office was set upon almost four years ago by the prior District Attorney, and I do not believe that path should continue to be pursued,” Johnson said in a statement.

He told the Waco Tribune-Herald that he was dropping the charges to “end this nightmare that we have been dealing with in this county since May 17, 2015.”

“The loss of life is a difficult thing,” Johnson told the newspaper. “But after looking over the 24 cases we were left with, it is my opinion as your district attorney that we are not able to prosecute any of those cases and reach our burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.”

All but 24 of the indictments were dropped before Johnson took office on Jan. 1. The remaining 24 defendants were reindicted on charges of riot. But the statute of limitations had already expired on many of the cases by then. Johnson said he was concerned that any convictions would be overturned on appeal because the charges might not hold up.

The previous district attorney, Abel Reyna, told the Tribune-Herald that he took issue with Johnson’s assessment.

“I absolutely disagree with the overall result, as well as several statements and accusations within Mr. Johnson’s press release,” he said. “However, it is solely his decision on how to proceed with any case in the district attorney’s office. I respect the fact that the voters of McLennan County chose Mr. Johnson to make these types of decisions.”

Prosecutors struggled to prove who was at fault in the melee because it was “a battlefield situation,” Tom Needham, McLennan County’s executive assistant criminal district attorney, told the Austin American-Statesman. “There were dozens of guns and hundreds of weapons collected after a five-minute brawl. … With the video evidence and the forensic evidence that’s available, it’s simply not possible to establish proof beyond a reasonable doubt [of] who fired the shots that killed people.”

Four of those killed were struck by bullets from Waco police officers, according to multiple media reports.

As NPR’s John Burnett reported at the time, Waco police knew that trouble was brewing at the Twin Peaks restaurant between rival motorcycle gangs, including the Cossacks and the Bandidos:

“Bikers had been congregating there in ever-increasing numbers, and there had been more and more arrests for fights and weapons. Authorities had intelligence that there was a high potential for violence on Sunday. And they were right.

“About 12:15 p.m. local time, a fight reportedly started in the bathroom, then moved into the bar and finally spilled into the parking lot, where the motorcycle riders went at each other with guns, knives, chains and clubs.”

Only one of the cases was ever tried by prosecutors: that of Jacob Carrizal, head of the Bandidos’ Dallas chapter. But his case ended in mistrial, indicating the difficulty that prosecutors were likely to face in any subsequent trial of a biker rounded up at Twin Peaks.

A judge put all the remaining cases on hold once Johnson was elected so that he could review their handling. In his statement, Johnson said he didn’t want to waste taxpayers’ money on fruitless trials. As of May 2018, the county reportedly had spent $1.2 million on expenses related to the shootout.

More than 130 bikers have filed civil rights lawsuits against city and county authorities, the Tribune-Herald reports; many of them allege false arrest. Many of the 177 arrested spent weeks in jail on $1 million bonds.

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