Mayor Mad as Violence Tarnishes Memorial Day Weekend

For millions of Americans, Memorial Day weekend felt like a watershed moment when the momentum of the pandemic finally appeared to be rolling back. Americans came out and enjoyed beautiful weather, picnics, music, and beaches. For Chicago, the city experienced its most violent Memorial Day weekend in five years, and Mayor Lori Lightfoot was not at all pleased.

Lightfoot called out police superintendent David Brown for not strategizing to prevent more violence. Lightfoot said publicly that, “We need to do better,” and that the “weekend’s violence was out of control.”

Memorial Day’s Sad Statistics

At least 10 individuals were shot and killed over the weekend while 40 more were injured by gunfire. This was despite a statewide stat-at-home order and an effort to coordinate between departments to ensure a safe weekend. Last year, seven people were shot to death on Memorial Day. Five years ago, 12 people lost their lives in shootings. 

While Lightfoot’s message was a stern one, she did acknowledge that Chicago P.D. was facing unprecedented stressors over the weekend. Typically, she told the press, federal agents would provide support for the city during a weekend such as this. But with the pandemic going on, that much-needed support was not on offer. 

Meanwhile, the courts are not taking many criminal cases, causing a backlog. Many of those who are currently awaiting trial have been released, while some who have been convicted of charges have also been released. 

Lightfoot said that those who are being charged with crimes right now are being cycled in and out of the court system in as few as 48 hours. This is true-ish, but those convicted of violent crimes or those who are considered a threat to someone specific in the community are finding their way into jail. Meanwhile, the virus itself is making police more wary of making arrests when they know that these individuals will be out on the streets in two days or less. 

Brown, in response, reiterated that the Chicago P.D.’s resolve in making the city the safest in the country has not been shaken. Nonetheless, the shootings began only hours after Brown had addressed the public on the measures that would be employed to contain violence over the weekend. He also said that staffing issues may pose a problem. 

On a typical Memorial Day weekend, Chicago would employ 1,000 additional police officers. But this year would be different and instead, the superintendent would focus on coordinating better between departments. 

With the year only six months in, more than 1,000 people have been shot in Chicago. This is more than 100 more than the same time last year. Whether this can be blamed on pandemic quarantine is debatable. But Chicago continues to be a city where gun violence is a major problem.

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