Chicago, IL – In keeping with a tradition of increased violence during summer months, Chicago had its most brutal weekend of 2019 thus far, with 52 people shot and 10 killed between Friday and Sunday evenings.
Two of the people who were killed were stabbed to death, USA Today reported.
The nation’s third-largest city has continued to struggle with gun violence even as homicide rates hover at historic lows for the rest of the United States.
“What this shows is just a proliferation of guns we have on the streets of Chicago,” Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson told reporters at a press conference on Monday.
He also said most of the shootings over the weekend were gang-related.
Newly-elected Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has established “Accountability Mondays” for meetings with police leadership and city officials in her new administration to review the violence over the previous weekend, the Chicago Tribune reported.
“What I said to them in the opening was, if they’re not going to bed every night and waking up every morning worrying and having a sense of urgency and asking themselves what more they can personally do to fight crime and stem the violence in their city, they’re in the wrong job,” Lightfoot said.
The new mayor said she has no plans at this point to switch up the leadership of the Chicago Police Department and that Superintendent Johnson’s job is not in jeopardy, the Chicago Tribune reported.
“I’m optimistic that we will have effective strategies going in place because I’m going to make sure that happens,” Lightfoot promised.
She pointed out that policing can only solve part of Chicago’s problem and pointed to the blight of poverty in parts of the city that have been ignored for years.
“There are areas in the city [where] there is literally nothing,” the mayor told the Chicago Tribune. “Vacant lots, abandoned houses, no restaurants, no coffee shops, no grocery stores, no parks, no schools. All the things that we know are important to maintaining a good quality of life and providing residents with a sense that the city cares about them, that they have a stake in their own future, and neighborhood after neighborhood on the South and West sides in particular, those things just don’t exist.”
“This is not a law enforcement-only problem, and they’re not going to solve it entirely, but I want to make sure they’re doing everything they can to be far more proactive,” Lightfoot said.
For his part, Superintendent Johnson blamed lax gun laws and a too-lenient court system that allows gun offenders to get out of jail.
“Until we stop giving them [gun offenders] the sense that they can do this with impunity, then we are going to continue to have these press conferences,” he said.
“We know who a lot of these people are,” Superintendent Johnson told reporters. “And how do we know that? Because we keep arresting them over and over and over and over again. And it’s just a vicious cycle. So until we hold violent offenders accountable in the way that they should be, we’re going to continue to see this.”
Superintendent Johnson said the city had put more police in targeted areas where authorities thought gang members would retaliate for previous shootings, USA Today reported.
As part of that enforcement push, Chicago police seize 92 illegal firearms, about twice as many as they usually get on a typical warm-weather weekend.
The superintendent said that in the coming weeks, more patrols – including officers on bicycles and on foot – would be taking to the streets in some of the city’s more popular tourist destinations, USA Today reported.