Chicago, IL – A group of Chicago lawmakers are hoping to extend the penalties for vandals who deface or damage memorials honoring law enforcement officers.
Chicago Alderwoman Silvana Tabares said she is pushing to establish an ordinance that would make punishment for such vandalism the same as the punishment for vandalizing memorials or property honoring military veterans, WGN reported.
Tabares said she filed the ordinance after a string of Chicago Police Memorial Foundation billboards were damaged and defaced.
One billboard featured slain Chicago Police Officer Samuel Jimenez, a 28-year-old married father-of-two who was killed while responding to an active shooter call in 2018, the Associated Press reported.
The foundation put up approximately 60 similar billboards in high-traffic areas in an attempt to humanize law enforcement officers.
Chicago Alderman Raymond Lopez said he recently came upon another vandalized police billboard at Cermak and Canal in Chinatown.
“They are dedicated to protecting neighborhoods,” reads the billboard, which features a female Chicago police officer in full uniform casting a shadow of a cape-wearing superhero.
It is now splattered with blotches of red paint.
“This is one of my normal routes and just at the red light, I looked over and saw the damage done to the billboard,” Lopez fumed to WGN. “Clearly, it was intentional to send a message about the police and honoring our officers. It’s unfortunate and disrespectful.”
The alderman said police don’t deserve to see such attacks on their profession.
“I would hate to see an officer drive past this and see the red paint like bloodstains on what they do,” he told WGN. “Our officers put their lives on the line every day to protect us.”
In another incident, a video on social media showed a suspect tearing down a photo of slain Chicago Police Officer Ella French from a memorial display at the Thompson Center and throwing it away, according to WGN.
“That’s why last month, on Ella French’s birthday, I filed an ordinance,” Tabares told WGN.
Tabares said she believes the penalties for defacing property honoring law enforcement officers should match those established for vandalizing veteran memorials.
“The punishment is up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $750,” Tabares told WGN. “That’s what the ordinance does.”
“The city needs to use it,” she added. “Enough is enough. This behavior cannot continue to happen.”
Chicago Alderman Byron Sigcho-Lopez, who represents the ward where the latest vandalism occurred, released a statement denouncing what is occurring, WGN reported.
“Our city was traumatized with another weekend of horrific violence and this violent imagery is yet another expression of the unsustainable level of pain and violence in our city,” Sigcho-Lopez wrote. “Chicagoans deserve to live in a city that is safe to work, play, and raise their families in. Violence, and any threat of violence, is unacceptable.”