Chicago sees deadliest Memorial Day weekend since 2015

Chicago News
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CHICAGO — Mayor Lori Lightfoot gave a blunt assessment of anti-violence tactics used over a Memorial Day weekend in Chicago where 49 people were shot and 10 died: “it was a fail.”

“Whatever the strategy was – it didn’t work… We cannot have the weekends in the summer turn into a bloodbath,” Lightfoot said Tuesday.

Despite a statewide stay-at-home order, this Memorial Day weekend turned out to be the most violent the city of Chicago has seen since 2015.

It was the first holiday weekend for new Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown.  Like police superintendents before him, he blamed the violence on drugs and gangs.

“These incidents primarily involved disputes between rival gang factions as well as clashes involving the sale of illegal drugs,” Brown said. “This was a challenging weekend… but we are not giving up on our city.”

From Friday afternoon to midnight Tuesday, a total of 49 people were shot, 10 fatally.

Saturday morning, a 15-year-old boy was killed after being shot multiple times at 76th and Exchange after an argument with the driver of an SUV, according to police. On Sunday morning, a 21-year-old man died after being shot in the head on Drake and Augusta, also in Humboldt Park.

Early Monday morning, a 15-year-old girl was grazed in the leg while standing at 120th and Wallace. Then around 11:30 p.m. Monday, police said a woman and two men were shot while standing outside on Hamlin near Augusta in Humbolt Park.

Chicago Police Department officials speak after a violent Memorial Day weekend in Chicago

Brown said the effects of the coronavirus may have also contributed to the level of violence.

“People are feeling restless after being cooped up for weeks. The court system and jails have also been impacted by the outbreak,” Brown said.

Activists who spent the holiday weekend trying to mediate conflicts say many were caused by interpersonal disputes and argue the stay-at-home order had no impact.

Violence Interrupters, INC President Tio Hardiman said what happened over the Memorial Day weekend is unacceptable, and he wants to sit down and meet with the mayor and Brown to introduce his new strategies to reduce shootings and homicides in the city.

“I would like to introduce the Restorative Justice Peace Model to the city. I would like to train police officers in the field to conflict resolution and mediation services. Therefore, we can go to work like that,” Hardiman said.

In years past, Chicago police have added an additional 1,000 officers during Memorial Day weekend. Brown didn’t do that this year, but there were several hundred additional officers on the streets.

However, Brown said the department launched the summer operation center to get ahead of the holiday weekend.

The city-wide command center looks at 911 calls, and other numbers, to adjust staffing at a moments notice. Supt. Brown said they were able to do that to respond to gun violence over the weekend.

Over the weekend, police say 216 guns were taken off the streets and 86 people were arrested for gun offenses. 

CPD also dealt with large crowds over the weekend, despite the state’s stay-at-home order. Police dispersed about 300 groups per day, and said most of those people complied.

Community activists say police were enforcing the stay-at-home order more harshly in minority neighborhoods, but Lightfoot denies this claim.

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