CHICAGO — A proposed sit-down between Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Anjanette Young has been called off, at least for now.
Keenan Saulter, Young’s attorney, canceled the proposed meeting Monday evening. He said the mayor accepted Young’s invitation for a private meeting at Progressive Baptist Church, 3658 S. Wentworth Ave., but declined to participate in a forum with a limited audience afterward.
Saulter said the forum would serve as “an opportunity for transparency and healing for Ms. Young and the citizens of the City of Chicago.”
Corporation Counsel Celia Meza, appointed to lead the city law department this month, told Saulter the mayor agreed to the meeting but not the forum, according to communications obtained by the Tribune. But the private audience and public forum were a package deal, Saulter said, so in refusing one, both now are off the table.
“To be clear, this means that the Mayor declined Ms. Young’s request to meet with her in the manner that Ms. Young had requested—a manner that was best for her, her healing and transparency,” Saulter said in a statement released by his law firm Monday evening.
Lightfoot’s office said in a brief statement the mayor still was open to meeting with Young.
“As the Mayor has said previously, she is eager to meet with and to hear directly from Ms. Young to continue the process of healing. Hopefully such a meeting will be possible soon,” the statement read.
The prospect of a meeting emerged over the weekend then was scrapped following back-and-forth between Saulter and Meza.
Saulter had initially invited Lightfoot, Chicago Police Supt. David Brown and seven aldermen to participate in the forum, but claimed he extended an invitation to the entire City Council following “informal pushback from individuals associated with Mayor Lightfoot that only certain aldermen were invited.”
Saulter said Meza relayed concerns from the mayor about staging a forum during a pandemic. He also said Meza shared fears about such an event violating the Open Meetings Act and leading aldermen to make public statements about the controversy that could “compromise their fiduciary responsibility” to the city.
If the city were to agree to a large financial settlement with Young, it would require City Council approval.
Instead of the forum, Saulter said, Meza relayed the mayor would have a press conference at the same time.
Saulter said he will go forward with plans to sue the city of Chicago and police officers involved in the raid. Young filed, but later withdrew, a separate federal lawsuit in 2019.
“For Ms. Young, the Mayor’s apologies without action ring hollow and fall on deaf ears,” Saulter said. “The Mayor’s apology, more than a year after she found out about Ms. Young’s treatment at the hands of the Chicago Police Department (by her own admission) is not justice.”
It would have marked the first known conversation between Lightfoot and Young following a shocking video, first reported by CBS Chicago, of a mistaken raid at her home showing Chicago Police officers bursting through the door as she prepared for bed.
The raid occurred in February 2019 but only came to light publicly after CBS’ report detailed how police targeted the wrong home, how the city refused Young’s requests to obtain police body cam footage, and how city lawyers tried to to block CBS from airing the video in their report.
The officers were conducting a “knock and announce” search warrant but left little time for Young to respond before entering her home.
The officers searched Young’s home as she was left naked and handcuffed. Young, visibly distressed in the video, told the officers numerous times she lived alone and they had the wrong home.
Lightfoot was not mayor when the raid took place, but her administration fought Young’s attempts to get videos of the raid and initially sought to punish Young’s attorney for providing videos of the raid to the news station.
The city’s handling of the case has only intensified the controversy for the past two weeks.
Officials realized they didn’t provide Young with all of the video of the raid, finding and turning over six more videos. And Lightfoot initially denied knowing about the raid until CBS2 broadcast video of it — but then said she was informed of the raid a year ago. The city also tried to get the court to punish CBS2 and Saulter, but it’s now withdrawn those actions.
Aldermen excoriated Lightfoot and the Police Department for how they handled the raid and its aftermath during an hours-long hearing last week.
Lightfoot has tapped former federal judge Ann Claire Williams and her law firm Jones Day to investigate the incident. Members of City Council have called on Inspector General Joe Ferguson to conduct a separate investigation.
Brown assigned 12 police officers involved in the raid to desk duty, pending an investigation by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, an inquiry that’s already taken more than a year.
COPA’s chief administrator Sydney Roberts said last week the oversight body has obtained approval to begin interviewing the officers involved in the raid, and will wrap up its investigation in early 2021.