Mayor Rahm Emanuel tried Thursday to shift responsibility to judges and state legislators for the never-ending gang violence that has Chicago on pace to top 600 homicides and 6,000 shootings in 2016.
Former Mayor Richard M. Daley, who spent eight years as state’s attorney, perfected the art of beating up on judges and lawmakers to divert attention from his own responsibility when shootings and homicides went through the roof.
Daley had good reason to change the subject. He was mayor during the mid-1990s, when homicides peaked at more than 900 for two straight years.
On Thursday, Emanuel took a page from his predecessor’s playbook. After receiving names of the three finalists for police superintendent, he said police officers alone are not responsible for the bloodbath. So are judges.
“Talk to officers. They will tell you that, from the time they arrest people, within weeks these people are back on the streets. We’ve had a reminder in two recent incidents. The gang-banger who shot the [three] officers — look at his record. What is he doing on the streets of Chicago selling drugs — a known Vice Lord member? What is he doing there? And the cold-blooded killer of Tyshawn Lee. Look at his record. What is he doing on the streets of Chicago?” the mayor said, his voice rising.
“So I would say to the rest of the criminal justice system and to the judges, `You have a role to play in public safety. When somebody has a rap sheet that long, they do not belong on the streets of Chicago.’ ”
Lamar Harris, who shot and wounded three cops Monday on the West Side, was convicted in 2012 of gun possession and resisting a peace officer.
He got four years in prison for allegedly punching a cop investigating a call about a man with a gun. Harris was armed with a handgun, police said.
On Monday night, police fatally shot Harris after they chased him into a courtyard and he shot three officers, officials said.
Dwright Boone-Doty was convicted of gun possession by a felon and drug charges in 2013 and sentenced to five years in prison in Springfield.
He was paroled in August 2015, three months before he allegedly lured Tyshawn into an alley and killed him to avenge other slain gang members.
In the past, Emanuel has unsuccessfully pushed lawmakers to enact stiffer penalties for illegal gun possession and “truth in sentencing,” requiring offenders to serve most or all of their prison terms.
“Don’t bemoan a problem when you can vote for tougher gun laws,” he said Thursday. “And to all the other people who do want to see safety in their own neighborhoods, join a community action group. Cooperate so the officers know your name and you know theirs.”