CHICAGO — Dwyane Wade has lashed out against his hometown of Chicago’s gun laws, calling them weak and saying he’s already urged city officials to enact changes to help both citizens and police.
Wade also said his children are afraid of police officers the same way that he was when he was growing up, suggested that prison systems need to do more in rehabilitating inmates, and said that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump tweeting about the murder of his cousin last week left him with “a bad taste” in his mouth.
Wade spoke out to “Good Morning America” in an interview that aired Friday, one day before the funeral for his cousin Nykea Aldridge — a mother of four who was shot and killed on a Chicago street last week.
“For our family, it was very tough,” Wade said. “The headlines alone — mother walking down the street, registering her kids in school, a mother of four gets murdered — it’s tough to deal with.”
Aldridge was one of 90 people murdered in August alone in Chicago, a city that has been ravaged by gun violence. Wade is returning to Chicago this season after spending the first 13 years of his pro career starring for the Miami Heat.
“My purpose for being back in the city is bigger than basketball,” Wade said. “Basketball is a big part of it, of course. It’s what I do for a living. But I think my purpose at the end of the day is hopefully to come to Chicago and be a part and be the voice that can help bring people together.”
The Chicago Police Department issued a statement following Wade’s remarks:
“Community policing and strong partnerships are vital in our efforts to make Chicago safer. Each and every day, the vast majority of Chicago police officers work very hard to forge stronger bonds between officers and citizens and that work will continue. Additionally, our fight against violent offenders who torment neighborhoods with gun violence is unwavering. Every day, officers put their lives at risk engaging armed offenders and nearly every hour, they take another illegal gun off our city streets. We will continue to target the gangs that drive the majority of violence but with nearly half of those we arrest for murder being repeated gun offenders, we need help to ensure these individuals stay off our streets after repeated arrests for guns.”
Trump tweeted about Aldridge’s killing a day after the shooting, saying that such an incident will have black voters backing his campaign.
Wade said Trump’s tweets left him conflicted.
“On one end your cousin’s death is used as a ploy for political gain,” Wade said. “I was grateful that it started a conversation, but on the other hand, it just left a bad taste in my mouth because of what my family is dealing with.”
Wade also said Trump’s tweet made her death “a national story.”
“I want eyes on this city. I want us to be able to do more together. The only way we can do more together is if more people know what’s going on,” Wade said.
Trump later posted a tweet extending his condolences to Wade and his family on the loss of his cousin.
Aldridge, 32, was pushing her baby in a stroller near a school where she’d planned to register her children when she was shot in the head and arm. She wasn’t the intended target, police said.
Two brothers who were on parole for prior criminal activity have been charged with first-degree murder in Aldridge’s death. Darwin Sorrells Jr., 26, and Derren Sorrells, 22, are being held without bail.
“Guys go to prison and then we let them back out on the street, they’re going to go back to what they’re used to and what they know,” Wade said, noting that some members of his family have already forgiven the accused shooters. “So if there’s something we can do with the prison that can help with work programs when people come out, it gives them an opportunity to try to help themselves.”
Wade has spoken out about social issues several times in the past, and said the three boys he’s raising — his two sons and a cousin — are old enough to understand the issue.
“My boys are afraid of police just the same way I was when I was growing up,” Wade said. “Not all police, obviously. But my boys hear everything that’s going on in the world, all the harassment, all the murders that’s going on and they pose the question back to me. And what answer do I have for them?”
Wade said tougher gun laws will actually help the police, and continues to have partnerships with law enforcement.
On Sept. 17, Wade will hold an event in Miami to promote cycling safety and unity in the community — and City of Miami police officers plan to join Wade on the six-mile bike ride to support the initiative.
“They are fighting a war,” Wade said of Chicago police. “And they can do a lot better, but they can get more help as well to do better. There’s other cities that have way tougher gun laws. We have weak gun laws.”