The story of Anjanette Young—the 50-year-old social worker who was undressing when Chicago police officers barged into her home in February 2019 and made her wait handcuffed and naked as cops ignored her pleas to get dressed while they searched for a felon who did not live there—has become another upsetting example of how cops routinely show wanton disregard for the wellbeing, dignity and respect of Black bodies. It also serves as a reminder that Black women are as vulnerable to that disregard as Black men are and that, for years, please for justice can go ignored just as the cops ignored Young for over half an hour before they would tell her why they were there and allow her to put clothes on.
Her story has also become a thorn in Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s side since earlier this month when bodycam footage—which city lawyers at one point tried to block the release of—was published.
Since the footage went public, Lightfoot has claimed that she was unaware of Young’s story until just a couple of weeks ago when she wrote in a statement: “Today, I became aware of an incident involving Ms. Anjanette Young from February 2019, before I became Mayor, and I saw a video today for the first time. I had no knowledge of either until today. I had a very emotional reaction to what was depicted on the video as I imagine that many people did.”
Well, that doesn’t appear to be exactly true.
The Chicago Tribune reports that Lightfoot was informed via email in November 2019 about “a pretty bad wrongful raid.” Young’s case was described in detail.
From the Tribune:
A top aide’s characterization of the botched raid and detailed description of how she was treated by Chicago police officers were among 153 pages of emails disclosed Wednesday as City Hall continues to deal with what has become a major crisis for the first-term mayor.
Lightfoot initially said she had only learned of the February 2019 raid, which occurred before she was mayor, earlier this month after WBBM-Ch. 2 aired police body camera footage that showed Young repeatedly telling officers who barged into her home that they had the wrong place.
Soon after, the mayor acknowledged that members of her staff told her about the raid via emails in November 2019, as Ch. 2 was reporting on search warrants being served at the wrong addresses. She also said she had no recollection of the emails.
“It was literally somebody saying, mayor, here’s another one, (some) words to that effect, I’m paraphrasing, and I said let’s talk about it, let’s get (former chief risk officer Tamika Puckett) involved, and there was a subsequent email from her because I was pushing her on what are we doing, where are we on revising the search warrant protocols, and she gave a detailed update,” Lightfoot previously said, summarizing the exchange.
The problem here is that Lightfoot responded to the email in a way that really makes it seem like she had to have known about Young’s story over a year ago.
According to the Tribune, which published a screenshot of Lightfoot’s emailed response, the summary said plainly that Young was handcuffed by police, and officers “allegedly left her standing for 40 minutes handcuffed and naked while all-male police officers search her apartment.”
Lightfoot’s response? “I have a lot of questions about this one. Can we do a quick call about it? Is 10:00, ie 10 minutes from now possible?”
She also added Puckett to the email thread and a day later Puckett emailed Lightfoot with an update on Chicago’s search warrant reforms. Lightfoot reportedly responded to that email saying, “We need to escalate the training for the 2+ search warrant affiants. We cannot afford any additional hits.”
So yeah, it really seems like she had to be pretty familiar with the name Anjanette Young well before December of this year. Either that or she didn’t really read the information she was sent.
Without admitting that her claims of late knowledge are looking shaky at best, Lightfoot appeared to express remorse for her response to the email in a statement Wednesday.
“While it’s clear that I focused my response to this information on the policy change we unquestionably needed, I should have paused to ask more questions about Ms. Young’s well-being and the video itself,” she said. “I am sorry that I didn’t do that then, and I’m committed to doing all that I can now to righting the wrongs Ms. Young experienced. Now is the time for meaningful change, and I won’t rest until we can be sure that what happened to Ms. Young never happens again.”