Chicago’s most violent weekend this year prompts plea for help from mayor, cops
Subscribe for unlimited digital access.
Try one month for $1!
Subscribe for unlimited digital access. Try one month for $1!
The city’s most violent weekend so far this year prompted Mayor Rahm Emanuel and police Supt. Eddie Johnson on Monday to ask Chicagoans to stop pointing frustrated fingers at police officers and start pointing them at gunmen who are pulling triggers.
“If you know who did this, be a neighbor, speak up. Neighbors come together. The city will be with you shoulder to shoulder,” Emanuel said during a news conference. “Don’t think for a moment people don’t know who in the neighborhood was responsible.”
Johnson said no one has been apprehended in connection with any of the weekend shootings, including a pair Sunday in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood, the place where the mayor and police superintendent spoke with reporters.
Eight people, including four teenage girls, were shot inside of a courtyard in the 1300 block of West 76th Street shortly after midnight and a 17-year-old boy was shot and killed in the 7600 block of South Union that afternoon.
“We have really good leads on quite a few of them, but we haven’t made any physical arrests,” Johnson said of all the shooting cases.
In all, a total of 71 people were shot — 12 of them fatally, between 5 p.m. Friday and 5 a.m. Monday. That ranks this the city’s worst weekend of 2018 in terms of the total number of people shot and the number who died after being shot.
The violence reached a peak early Sunday, when 30 people were shot during a three-hour span between midnight and 3 a.m. Eight shooting incidents that morning — including the eight shot in Auburn Gresham — had three or more victims.
Johnson said witnesses who come forward would be given protection.
“We work hard with the detective division, we work hard with the states attorney’s office to ensure these people, if you do come forward and testify, it’s our obligation and responsibility to keep you safe,” Johnson said.
Johnson expressed frustration with the blowback at the police department following violent summer weekends. Overall, the number homicides is down 20 percent citywide compared to the same time last year; there were 416 homicides in Chicago as of early August 2017 compared to 332 so far this year.
“I hear people holding us accountable all the time,” Johnson said. “I never hear people saying ‘These individuals out here in the streets need to stop pulling the trigger.’ . . . They get a pass from everybody, and they shouldn’t.'”
Both Emanuel and Johnson emphasized that good people far outweigh the handful of gunmen who are causing problems in the West and South Side communities where the violence has been centered.
Asked why, if the good outweigh the bad, members of the community are not stepping up to help identify shooters, Johnson said: “That’s a question we’ve been asking for quite some time, so, listen, that’s something they have to do better at.”
A Sun-Times reporter walked Auburn Gresham on Monday afternoon to gauge residents’ reactions to the violent weekend. Many declined to comment, and those that did would only do so anonymously.
A man who lives within shouting distance of where the eight people were shot early Sunday noted the area has experienced increased gang activity at the same time the number of foot-patrol police officers seemingly has decreased.
The man, who has lived in the neighborhood for 53 years, said he tried once several years ago working with police. It was the only time he did so, and also said it would be the last.
“I called the police and told them these guys were acting out. The officers then grabbed me and put me in front of the people I called the police on,” he said. “I was scared and just pretended not to know what they were talking about. I just said ‘I didn’t see anything.’”
During his news conference with the mayor, Johnson acknowledged the existence of trust issues that can serve as a barrier between members of the black community, in particular, and police officers.
“It’s up to me and my command staff to try and repair those relationship in the community and we’re making progress,” he said.
“But at the same time, every societal ill just simply can’t be placed at the doorstep of the police department expecting to handle it,” Johnson said.
“The police department isn’t here to raise children, we’re not. I can’t tell you how many people come up to us talking about their kids and what we can do. No, it’s not about what the police department can do. It’s about what you should do, you should do,” Johnson said, before softening his tone.
“And sometimes it does take a village to raise a child. I’m OK with that. When we see parents out their struggling, it’s our obligational responsibility to reach back and help them raise their children, help them be better parents, so I’ll take care of the CPD part of it but we still need the community’s help in resolving some of these issues.”
Steven Perkins, who heads public safety efforts for the neighborhood organization Target Area Development Corp., said Johnson is right about community members needing to look out for its young people.
“We want to point the finger at the police department saying, ‘Y’all got to do better,’ but that’s unfair and unrealistic,” Perkins said.
“I don’t believe the community has to work better with the police, I believe the community has to work better with the community,” he added. “The police department is not going to bring peace to our community when we don’t even have peace among ourselves.”
Contributing: Tanveer Ali