Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Tuesday she doesn’t need a front-page headline in the Chicago Sun-Times to tell her kids are being gunned down on the streets of the city.
“It hits me every day. ... I reach out to those families. I hear the heartbreak. I spend time with moms and dads who’ve lost toddlers, who’ve lost kids my daughter’s age,” Lightfoot said.
“As a parent, every time I see something like that happen, I grieve deeply. The first thought it, there but for the grace of God go I. We can’t exist in a world where kids aren’t safe in their own community and that they’re not safe from other young people in their own community.”
The Sun-Times reported Tuesday children in Chicago are dying from gun violence at a rate three times higher than last year.
“I don’t need a Sun-Times article to tell me that,” Lightfoot said Tuesday. “I see those numbers every day.”
So far this year, 10 children ages 15 or younger have been shot to death. That’s up from three children fatally shot by this time last year and more than the number of kids gunned down during all of 2019.
Out of nearly 1,500 shooting victims so far this year, at least 52 were 15 or younger. That’s up 21% from the 43 young shooting victims during the same period last year.
In spite of those troubling trends, Lightfoot said she believes her “whole of government” in 15 of Chicago’s most violent police beats within four zones on the South and West Sides is beginning to take hold.
But, she said, it can’t be fully effective until Congress cuts off the steady pipeline of illegal guns flowing into Chicago from Indiana and other states and until the gang members responsible for the city’s never-ending cycle of gun violence are held accountable.
“As my mother used to say when I was a kid, `You’re mine. I love you. But when you’re wrong, you’re wrong. I feel the same way about young people who’ve gone the wrong way. Let’s love them. Let’s support them. But when they cross the line and create chaos, there’s got to be accountability,” the mayor said.
“We cannot be silent when something like this happens. Particularly when we’re seeing the kind of damage that’s being done. Young lives being cut short. Them being robbed of their dreams, their potential and leaving a gaping hole in families that may never, ever be filled. We have a moral responsibility to step up and do more.”
Lightfoot said she spent a lot of time on the South and West Sides last weekend, talking about the need to “put the guns down” and provide support for “community organizations that are building safe spaces for young people and children and families to really take back the territory under their feet.”
But the mayor argued the Chicago Police Department and the rest of city government needs “help from other partners” to hold criminals accountable.
“We’ve got to get the criminal courts back open. We’ve got to actually have criminal trials happening … so the victims feel like they’re being heard by the criminal justice system and not being ignored.”