Court filings prove Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot engaged in discrimination by holding a two-day "press tour" exclusively for journalists of color, the Judicial Watch organization said in a press release Friday.
According to the release, Lightfoot engaged in the "tour" that included six interviews exclusively limited to "journalists of color" and admitted as much in filings relating to a discrimination lawsuit brought by a white journalist last month.
"Mayor Lightfoot's office today shockingly confirmed to a federal court that she discriminates on the basis of race in the conduct of her public office," Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said. "This racism is blatantly unconstitutional."
The case began when Lightfoot sent out a letter on the second anniversary of her term in office, which became part of the court case record.
In the letter from the Office of the Mayor to City Hall reporters, dated May 19, Lightfoot said she would only be granting interviews to "journalists of color" on her second inaugural anniversary.
"As a person of color, I have throughout my adult life done everything that I can to fight for diversity and inclusion in every institution that I have been a part of and being mayor makes me uniquely situated to shine a spotlight on this most important issue," her letter read. "I wanted to reach out to you directly to ensure you understand my thinking behind this decision."
When white Daily Caller journalist Thomas Catenacci requested an interview several times with Lightfoot following the announcement, he was met with silence.
Catenacci and Judicial Watch, a conservative, non-partisan, educational foundation, sued Lightfoot in federal court for violating the reporter's civil rights by discriminating against him because of race and violated his rights under the equal protection clause.
According to the organization, "Judicial Watch uses the open records or freedom of information laws and other tools to investigate and uncover misconduct by government officials and litigation to hold to account politicians and public officials who engage in corrupt activities."
When the parties met in front of United States District Court Judge John Z. Lee, sitting in Illinois, the judge ordered Lightfoot to submit evidence clarifying her position by Friday.
Some of those documents, including the letter were part of the order.
Lightfoot told CNN on Friday that the lawsuit was "frivolous."
"But here is the thing, I'm the mayor of the third largest city in the country," Lightfoot said. "I am an African American woman, to state the obvious. Every day when I look out across my podium, I do not see people who look like me but more to the point I do not see people who reflect the richness and diversity of this city."
Catenacci, meanwhile, said the court's decision was "a really encouraging sign."
"Essentially, the judge ordered the mayor and the city to state on the record and present to the court its [clarified] policy," he said in a television news interview. "What that means is that the city will have to say, 'Yes, for one day we did discriminate based on race.' And then from that point forward we'll see what they give the court."
Lightfoot's office did not respond to emailed requests for comment.
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