Chicago, IL – Despite “flooding the zone” with extra officers since Memorial Day and holding “Accountability Monday” meetings for police officials, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she “feels like we’re losing the streets” after another violent weekend left nine people dead and 32 wounded.
Lightfoot talked to reporters about the ongoing problems with violence in Chicago from a leadership conference in New York City on Tuesday, WFLD reported.
There has been much speculation that the new mayor is gunning for Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson but she has refused to address the possibility of replacing him.
“I do continue to have faith in Superintendent Johnson,” Lightfoot told reporters. “But it’s no secret that I’m pushing him and his leadership team to do better.”
“You have to look at the long-term trends and one weekend does not a trend make,” she continued. “But, we’ve now had a couple of weekends since I became mayor where it feels like we’re losing the streets. And it’s an issue that I push them on and have concerns about.”
Lightfoot said that she and her aides “were asking the hard questions and we’re not resting with superficial answers,” the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
“We want to know, not only what the problem is. The problem is quite obvious. But what we’re also pushing people to look at is, what are the solutions? What are you doing to adapt to the changing circumstances on the street?” the mayor asked.
Despite her efforts to make sweeping improvements by “flooding the zone” with more than 1,200 extra officers on holiday weekends and packing the city with special events for people to attend rather than shooting at each other, the statistics for 2019 have been pretty much in line with past summers and previous holiday weekends, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
Lightfoot’s results thus far have led her to the conclusion that poverty and disinvestment had brought the city down to its current state.
“What we’re seeing is the manifestation of a lot of disinvestment, a lot of poverty and a lot of poverty of soul — not just material wealth,” the mayor said.
“When we have calls for Streets and [Sanitation] to take off graffiti as quickly as possible, or else there may be [more violence] because somebody will respond in retaliation to graffiti, it tells you the desperate circumstances that we are in as a community and how we need to be much more holistic in thinking about how we reach these mostly young men and young men of color,” she added.
The mayor said that she would be linking the issues, not just the law enforcement response to the crimes, which had led to the current state of communities like Austin, North Lawndale, Englewood, and Roseland, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
Lightfoot was expected to replace the police superintendent shortly after she took office because he was installed by former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in an end-around that cut out the three candidates recommended by the Police Board, of which she was president at the time.
The mayor has come down hard on police officials since taking office despite her assertions that she doesn’t blame all the violence and crime on them.
In addition to holding “Accountability Monday” meetings, she has also ordered all non-union police officials to cancel vacations and plan to be in the city working all summer.
Lightfoot walked the streets with Superintendent Johnson and a cadre of officers over the violent Memorial Day weekend.
At the time, she said her reality check had been the number of crime alerts that hit her mailbox.
“I now get an alert every time there’s a shooting and I look at these things and I just think, ‘Dear God,’” the mayor said at the time. “This isn’t news to me. I know shootings happen. I know they’re happening at a volume that is unacceptable but when you see my inbox, I go away for half an hour and I come back and it’s just flooded with emails. We have to start talking about not accepting this behavior as something that is just business as usual.”