Lightfoot, top cop praise police efforts after most violent Memorial Day in 5 years

Two years after Mayor Lightfoot slammed Supt. David Brown for a Memorial Day weekend “bloodbath,” her office struck a different tone — even though more people were shot this year.

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Chicago Police Supt. David Brown speaks about current state of the Joint Carjacking Operation Task Force with several police departments in and outside the cook county during a press conference at the Office of Emergency Management and Communications in Near West Side, Monday, Feb. 7, 2022.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Two years after Mayor Lori Lightfoot slammed Chicago Police Supt. David Brown’s Memorial Day weekend strategy as “a fail,” she struck a different tone on Monday — even though the number of people shot was higher.

When shootings over the three-day stretch in 2020 left 10 dead and 39 others injured, Lightfoot called it a “bloodbath” and held Brown personally accountable.

Yet after nine people were killed and 42 more were wounded this holiday weekend — the most shootings in five years — her office celebrated that Chicago “safely returned to a series of fantastic events that define summertime in our city.”

“Mayor Lightfoot’s goal is to make Chicago the safest big city in the country,” the spokesperson said. “While we are not there yet, Chicago has made and continues to make considerable progress in many communities most impacted by violence.”

During a news conference Tuesday, Brown touted that homicides have fallen by “more than 30%” in the city’s 15 most violent community areas — although a Sun-Times analysis shows the decrease is actually closer to 25%. That’s compared to last year, the deadliest in the city in a quarter-century.

Those target communities are being flooded with new resources as part of a costly “whole-of-government” initiative trumpeted by Lightfoot. However, some of those same areas were still the hardest hit by gun violence this weekend.

About half of those shot were on the West Side, most of them in a single police district, the 11th, where there were two mass shootings on Sunday. On the South Side, at least 23 people were shot.

Brown said most of the shootings that took place on the city’s South and West sides over the weekend were due to personal disagreements and petty arguments. But he insisted that placing the onus on police to resolve the “root causes” of violence isn’t fair.

“How do we resolve the root causes of violence? If that’s on police, you’re putting too high a burden on police to resolve poverty and mental health challenges and drug addiction,” Brown said. “What police can do, though, is take guns off the street.”

To that end, he announced that officers made 154 gun arrests over the weekend and recovered 250 firearms, 75 of which were seized on Monday. 

“We race to take guns off the street because every gun, every single one taken off the street is a lifesaver, we believe,” he said. “It’s a deadly force situation avoided.”

He added: “Of what we can do, we did better than any other city in the country, which is take guns off the street to hopefully save lives.”

He also gave exceptional grades to the officers who worked over the weekend, some of whom had their days off canceled — a trend that has tanked morale in a department facing deep staffing issues.

“A for bravery. A for courage and commitment and dedication. Running toward danger, A-plus.”

The last time there was as many shootings as there were over the three-day weekend was in 2017, when 52 people were shot. In 2016, a historically violent year, 69 people were shot.

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