CHICAGO (CBS) — Frustrated at being asked to address unsubstantiated social media rumors for the second time in a week, Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Wednesday angrily denied that Chicago Police Supt. David Brown is on his way out, and upbraided reporters for asking her about “outrageous and preposterous” gossip.
“David Brown is the superintendent of this Police Department today, tomorrow, in the future, done. We are done. We are done,” Lightfoot said after she was asked about rumors of the superintendent’s ouster.
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“He’s doing his job, and so this constant, ‘He’s going to Dallas. He’s leaving,’ it’s just nonsense, and it’s destabilizing, and frankly it’s insulting,” she added. “When we get to a point where there’s no sussing and vetting of rumors before they are presented as fact, what you’re asking me or the superintendent or others to do is to disprove a negative, because you guys have bought into something that’s just silly,”
The questions about Brown came just days after Lightfoot took to Twitter to shoot down salacious and dubious social media chatter about her personal life, as well as claims that she was resigning.
“Our city doesn’t have any time for homophobic, racist and misogynistic rumors, today or any day,” Lightfoot tweeted on Sunday from her personal account. “It’s shocking and disappointing to see some media members and verified Twitter handles are peddling this trash as truth.”
The mayor was clearly still perturbed by those rumors on Wednesday as she was asked about Brown.
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“Let me just hopefully drive a nail in that coffin once and for all. What’s clear to me is that people who don’t like how we’re moving forward and breaking up the status quo are trying to spread ugly, offensive, and false rumors in order to create chaos, and some of you are taking the bait,” she said.
The mayor also admonished reporters for giving any credence to such rumors in the first place.
“When you see this madness circulating on social media, you don’t have to be like fish and bite at every piece of chum that’s cast on the water. Some of this stuff that’s out there that you guys take as legitimate is outrageous and preposterous on its face,” she said.
“You’re not doing a service to anybody by giving credibility to nonsense, you’re not, and frankly I think it delegitimizes the role of media,” she added “We need a vibrant thorough media in this city that pushes all of us, that holds all of us accountable, but you’re not doing that when you roll around in the depths of cesspools created by anonymous people on social media.”
When reporters pointed out Brown has rarely spoken in public in recent weeks, in the wake of the fatal police shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo, the mayor said the city’s top cop has been “appropriately present at the right places at the right time.”
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“He has been out in the community. He has been talking with a whole range of different stakeholders. He has been out there at roll calls, and doing what I think the superintendent must do, who is still forming relationships with a range of different people,” she said. “Standing up and holding a press conference in full regalia isn’t necessarily leadership. Leadership is the things you do, the quiet things you do sometimes, to build real authentic relationships, to be there for people that are in need, to be present when presence is called for, and that is the way that David Brown leads, and I support him a thousand-plus percent.”