Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday condemned as “unacceptable” an all-too familiar Memorial Day weekend bloodbath that left at least six people dead and 69 people shot.
The unrelenting gang violence continued an ugly trend that has both shootings and homicides up more than 50 percent over the same period last year.
Most of the violence has been blamed on what the Chicago Police Department calls a “strategic subjects” list comprised of people most likely to be perpetrators or victims of gang violence.
“It’s unacceptable. Memorial Day is a time when we begin our summer. Families should be able to enjoy the time in their backyards, at barbecues and the beaches — and a lot of families did. But a lot of individual families did not,” the mayor said.
“If you go look at what happened, there’s a high level of correlation of gang-on-gang violence and people with records of violence who were still on the streets. I would call for tougher gun laws, for judges to make sure that people who are repeat gun offenders do not get light sentences.”
Emanuel thanked the hundreds of Chicago Police officers who volunteered to work overtime over the holiday weekend to saturate gang-infested neighborhoods on the city’s South and West Sides.
He also thanked religious and community leaders who “came together on faith and action to work with the Police Department to reclaim their streets.”
It was the third straight year of anti-violence events heading into the long holiday weekend that marks the unofficial start of summer and “probably one of the highest levels of participation,” Emanuel said.
The mayor noted that an event on the West Side at the church of the Rev. Johnny Miller, a newly appointed Police Board member, saw a North Side church “bring its members to partner” with Miller’s congregation.
“Then we had a parade or a march to a playground and a park we had opened about two years ago. Officers were there. Congregants of two different faiths in two different churches from two different parts of the city were there. That, to me, is a true picture of the city of Chicago,” the mayor said.
“I want to see that repeatedly because, what happens with too much frequency on the South Side and the West Side of the city is our children are having their childhood taken from them because of the familiarity of gun violence and not the familiarity of another child’s laughter.”
Emanuel’s call for longer sentences for repeat offenders and tougher gun laws are a familiar refrain.