(Correction: A previous version of the story incorrectly stated the condition of some of the victims. The story has been updated.)
Violence spiked in Chicago with 104 people shot over the long Fourth of July weekend leaving 19 dead and 13 children wounded, according to reports.
It marked the deadliest weekend in Chicago this year, as a political back-and-forth continues in city halls and on Capitol Hill over a nationwide crime wave.
“I wish that whatever this madness is going on, I wish that it would stop,” Chicago resident Toni Watkins, told The Chicago Sun-Times. “Usually, I feel safe around here. But now this has me questioning it because it’s close to home right now.”
A Chicago Sun-Times database tallied the gun violence over the weekend.
Two Chicago police officers were among those wounded over the weekend. They were shot while dispersing a crowd early Monday morning. At least 33 officers have been shot at this year, according to Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown.
The holiday is traditionally a dangerous time in the city. Mr. Brown had predicted that the holiday weekend would be the “most challenging weekend of the year” in a recent meeting with Chicago leaders.
The city’s June crime statistics showed a 20% decrease in homicides and a 13% decrease in shooting incidents compared to June 2020. But the city more than matched total homicides for the first six months of this year compared to the same period in 2020, which was one of the deadliest years in Chicago in decades. As of the end of June, homicides remain up 33% over the first six months of 2019.
The rise in crime rates has put Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on defense. She recently pointed to lax gun laws in surrounding states as well as deeply rooted social and economic issues as the cause of the violence.
“I believe that violence is a manifestation of systemic problems, and it’s a public health crisis,” Ms. Lightfoot said in a local television interview “When you see, in way too many neighborhoods, a lack of jobs, a lack of investment — these are historic, decades-long problems.”
Ms. Lightfoot said the rise in violence was also partly attributable to the fact that courts have been closed due to the pandemic.
“We still have too many murderers that are not being held accountable,” she said at a June 28 press conference. “Not just in Chicago, but across this country. But our county is being plagued. So I’m calling upon our county partners, and particularly those in the criminal courts. Open up the courts. People need to get their day in court. Justice delayed is justice denied.”
Some city leaders don’t buy it.
“Lori Lightfoot has been saying that calls for answers about violence and how we’re addressing the nonstop bloodshed on our streets was a stunt,” Chicago Alderman Raymond Lopez, a Democrat, told Fox News last week. “It was political. It was a joke to her. It was the diversion. She’s never taken this seriously.”
He continued: “Our superintendent clearly is not up to the job. The mayor is not up to the job to keep the city of Chicago safe. And we want her on the record, not in a backroom meeting. We want her on record to explain how she’s going to keep Chicagoans safe.”
Over the weekend, Ms. Lightfoot took to Twitter to promote a strategy developed at the beginning of the summer to address the spike in crime normally experienced during the warmer months.
“It’s no longer safe enough to simply say we want to create a safer Chicago,” Ms. Lightfoot tweeted Sunday. “We must take bold, transformative action.”
The strategy calls for prioritizing 15 police beats within the city that are experiencing the highest crime rates and engaging community partners to help the police prevent crime through outreach and prevention programs.
The violence in Chicago mirrors a nationwide crime wave. Republicans have blamed the lawlessness on the “defund the police” movement that spread after the murder of George Floyd last year by then-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
“From Los Angeles to New York, crime is soaring in cities managed by Democrats,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, California Republican, tweeted last week. “They’ve defunded police, but they’re not finished yet — they’re trying to eliminate law enforcement altogether.”