Mayor Lori Lightfoot is answers questions about the spike in violent crime over the holiday weekend during an “accountability Monday” event
CHICAGO — It was another violent holiday weekend in Chicago with at least 66 people shot, six fatally, over the long Fourth of July weekend.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she was out riding with officers over the holiday, where she witnessed police responding to a call of shots fired that turned out to be kids throwing fire crackers. She also witnessed a fist fight between two women in the middle of the street.
“It’s an ongoing constant effort and I think people are very focused, our officers are working quite hard,” Lightfoot said.
Lightfoot characterized the violence as the result of issues facing under-resourced neighborhoods in Chicago, and said she was taking the “long view” of the issue.
“The challenges we see in our neighborhoods are not just a challenge of policing; they’re a challenge of investment and lack of investment. A lot of things boil up to and manifest themselves into violence,” Lightfoot said.
Lightfoot said their strategy for addressing violence has to be flexible to address new challenges, like gang conflicts that have been resolved for years starting up again, or sudden parties that would pop up throughout the night.
CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson reacted to a level of violence that increased compared to last year by pointing to what he says are key causes: the stranglehold of gangs, the dearth of economic opportunity, and the long-standing challenges of police and community relations.
Johnson says Chicago police officers seized 199 illegal guns, an average of two per hour. Despite over 1,500 additional officers working overtime in Chicago, Johnson blames lenient treatment of felony gun suspects after they are arrested for the increase. Of the 42 arrested on felony gun charges, 27 were let out on bond, and 18 were repeat gun offenders.
“We know that these individuals are likely to continue the behavior that landed them in handcuffs in the first place, and we know this because we keep arresting them over and over again,” Johnson said. “Individuals with a felony weapons charge must and should be held accountable and face responsibility for what they do.”
Lightfoot agreed the judicial system should make sure people are getting “appropriate attention” from the criminal justice system.
Anti-violence activists are furious, saying the rise in violence shows the city’s plan is not working. Activist Eric Russel says CPD needs change at the top.
“Superintendent Eddie Johnson has failed us it is time for superintendent Eddie Johnson to either retire or be terminated by the mayor," Russell said.
Among those killed was 22-year-old Akeelah Addison, the niece of a woman killed by a CTA train while retrieving her phone from the tracks, according to the Chicago Tribune. Police said Addison was at a party celebrating Fourth of July when a man shot her in the head just before 3 a.m. Friday in the 4200 block of South Wells Street in Fuller Park.
In another shooting Friday, 40-year-old Tory Terry was killed. Terry was fatally shot near the CTA Laramie Green Line station in the city's Austin neighborhood. A 65-year-old man was rushed to the hospital in critical condition after being shot several times, including in the face.
Five people were shot in Woodlawn on Friday. Another four people were shot on 56th and Paulina in West Englewood on Sunday.
Also this holiday weekend, although not apart of the shooting totals, was the fiasco that followed Thursday's fireworks show at Navy Pier. Three people were stabbed, and more than a dozen people were trampled as a result of what police are calling a gang altercation.
Activist Tio Hardiman, who pioneered the "violence interrupters," says the department must work to intervene before conflicts become violent.
“You cannot point fingers at the justice system, anytime you have 1,200 police officers on the streets and you still cannot stem the tide of violence, something’s wrong with your approach," Hardiman said.