clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Lightfoot says new approaches needed to curb West Side shootings, deal with community trauma

The mayor said she came away “devastated and heartbroken, but determined to make a difference” after spending Saturday on the West Side as part of the city’s efforts to clean up the Pulaski Corridor.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Police Supt. Eddie Johnson talk to reporters outside the police academy earlier this summer.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Police Supt. Eddie Johnson talk to reporters outside the police academy earlier this summer.
Sun-Times file photo

On a weekend when the nation’s attention was riveted on mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, Chicago was suffering through a violent weekend of its own that has become numbingly routine during summer months.

When it was over, at least seven people were dead and 46 others were wounded.

Some of the worst bloodshed took place in North Lawndale. The West Side neighborhood was rocked by three shootings, all of them gang related.

In just over two hours, the shootings left a man dead and 16 other people hurt, police said. They all happened in the Ogden police district.

The Chicago Police Department deployed additional officers to prevent even more gang retaliation.

“It unfortunately happens here almost every weekend,” a somber Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Monday.

Lightfoot spent much of the day Saturday on the West Side as part of the city’s efforts to clean up the Pulaski Corridor between the Eisenhower Expressway and Lake Street, an area that has recorded some of Chicago’s highest numbers of homicides and drug overdoses.

The mayor said she came away “devastated and heartbroken, but determined to make a difference” in those “desperate” areas of the West Side by marshaling a city response more comprehensive than ever.

“I see addicts literally stumbling in stupors on the street. People coming off of the subway looking for a dealer so that they can get their next fix, and this whole little infrastructure that’s been set up for drug dealing and delivering potent toxic deadly narcotics,” the mayor said.

“Our children are seeing and witnessing and [experiencing] public spaces — the few that are here — taken over entirely by drug operations and also seeing the manifestations of the trauma that our people are experiencing. Seniors seemingly pinned down in their homes. It’s shameful.”

Lightfoot described conditions so horrendous, she lacks the “capacity to process” it all.

“We have to do better. . . . What I saw is that, as a city we have to stand up and do a helluva lot more than what we’ve done in a very long time,” she said.

The mayor talked to reporters about the violence in Chicago and across the nation after meeting with stakeholders from across the city about coordinating the city’s mental health response to violence.

Lightfoot hinted strongly that the meeting at the Lawndale Christian Health Center, 3860 W. Ogden Ave., was not confined to the drive to reopen mental health clinics closed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

“The plan initially was to think about how we can provide rapid response to communities that are suffering trauma, but the reality is the level of trauma, the level of violence is so frequent, what we have to do is think differently,” she said.

The mayor noted that “hundreds of millions of dollars” has been spent at the federal, state and local levels on policing on the West Side “and we have barely moved the needle.”

“It is time for us to approach this from a very different perspective with different kinds of resources,” she said.