By Maggie Prosser
From Chicago Tribune
CHICAGO—A memorial billboard for a Chicago police officer killed in a 2018 attack at a South Side hospital was vandalized Wednesday morning, police said.
The billboard, which honors Officer Samuel Jimenez, who was killed responding to an active shooter at Mercy Hospital and Medical Center in November 2018, was tagged with “PROPAGANDA” Wednesday morning at the corner of Elston and LeClaire avenues, according to Chicago police.
The billboard was installed by the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation as part of a citywide effort to humanize police, Executive Director Philip Cline said. Cline called the act “terrible” and “tragic.”
“The defacement of the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation billboard is an absolute disgrace and insult to the memory of Chicago Police Officer Samuel Jimenez, the Jimenez family and every other fallen officer and families of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our city,” a Chicago police spokeswoman said in a statement.
Jimenez, 28, had been on the police force for two years when he was gunned down coming to the aid of other officers during the Mercy Hospital shooting. He was married with three small children. Two other people, including the shooter’s former fiancee and a pharmacy resident, were killed during the attack.
Cline described Jimenez as a “hero,” and dismissed any accusations that the billboards are “pro-police propaganda,” but rather said they are an attempt to show people that Chicago police are human and have families too.
“(The offenders) are not going to deter us by doing this,” said Cline, a former Chicago police superintendent. “We ask that the good people of the city support their police.”
The Chicago Police Memorial Foundation finances more than 60 billboards along highly trafficked roads and expressways, he said.
Clear Channel, the company that owns and maintains the billboards, is working on restoring the memorial to Jimenez, and police are going to pay “special attention” to the billboards to deter vandalism, Cline said.
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