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Weekend bloodbath becomes political shrapnel in race for mayor

Chicago police at one of the crime scenes from the weekend of Aug. 3-6. | Tyler LaRiviere/Chicago Sun-Times

The weekend bloodbath that left 71 people shot and 12 people dead has become political shrapnel in the heated race for mayor of Chicago.

Fired Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy was the first to attack Mayor Rahm Emanuel, citing a six-hour period that left five people dead and more than 30 others shot, most of them teenagers.

Starting at 5 p.m. Friday and ending at 5 a.m. Monday, the tally was: Three people shot Friday evening; 14 shot Saturday; 48 shot Sunday; and six shot early Monday.

“This is a mayor who continues to ignore this epidemic of violence that’s taking over communities on the South and West Sides of this city,” McCarthy was quoted as saying in an emailed statement.

“Instead of facing this horrific condition head-on with community-based solutions for this human carnage of African-American children, this mayor wants to talk about how the murder rate is going down. Who’s buying that, given what we just witnessed this weekend?”

Chicago mayoral candidate Garry McCarthy speaks at a press conference held outside Chicago Police headquarters in July. | Colin Boyle/Sun-Times

McCarthy noted that, as grieving families filled overwhelmed emergency rooms, Emanuel was demonstrating how “out of touch with reality” and residents of Chicago’s “neediest neighborhoods” he is — by holding a news conference about a $10 million dollar expansion of the downtown Riverwalk.

“He is failing them — to death,” McCarthy said.

McCarthy got an assist from his former boss, former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

On Sunday, Giuliani fired off several tweets as the body count rose to record levels in Chicago. Too bad he got McCarthy’s name wrong — then grossly over-estimated the number killed.

“Chicago murders are direct result of one party Democratic rule for decades,” Giuliani tweeted.

“Policing genius Jerry McCarthy can do for Chicago what I did for NYC. He was one of the architects of Compstat. Slashed homicides over 70%. Tens of thousands of lives saved.”

That was followed by another tweet that got McCarthy’s name right, but spelled Emanuel’s name wrong.

“Give Garry McCarthy your support @Garry4Chicago. Tomorrow I will get you information to contribute. MAKE CHICAGO SAFE AGAIN! He can do a lot better than Mayor Emmanuel who is fiddling while Chicago burns,” Giuliani wrote.

The former New York City mayor then sent a third tweet on Monday that greatly exaggerated the body count in Chicago–and again misspelled Emanuel’s name.

“63 murders this weekend in Rahm Emmanuel’s Chicago. His legacy more murders in his city than ever before. It’s only because of Democrat brain washing that he has even a chance of remaining. Support police professional Garry McCarthy,” Giuliani wrote.

The Giuliani twitter-storm prompted McCarthy to issue, yet another statement — which misspelled Giuliani’s name — breaking with the former New York City mayor.

“I am a proud Democrat and I do not agree with Mayor Guiliani’s [sic] political views and I certainly remain opposed to the misguided, divisive tone and policies of Donald Trump,” he wrote.

“I cannot say strongly enough how saddened I am to see `America’s Mayor’ stand with a president with whom I am diametrically opposed. I also categorically disagree that Democrats – as Guiliani suggested – are responsible for Chicago’s tragic gun violence. The blame lies squarely with Rahm Emanuel’s weak leadership and failed policies.”

Mayoral challenger Lori Lightfoot also chimed in with a claim that public safety is “the right of every Chicagoan — not a question of zip code or a commodity for the wealthy.”

Mayoral candidate Ja’Mal Green speaks at 78th and Halsted following a violent weekend in Chicago. Green was speaking outside a Chicago Police district headquarters; inside, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CPD Supt. Eddie Johnson were holding a news conference. | Colin Boyle/Sun-Times

And another candidate, community activist Ja’Mal Green, blamed a “lack of investment” in violence-ravaged inner-city neighborhoods—in economic development, education, mental health and in building trusts between citizens an police.

“While I can hold the mayor accountable for a lot, it’s also the communities that have to change their communities and step up. We need community residents to step up and actually start up the block clubs and talk to these young guys on the streets, “ Green said.

“But, it’s gonna be the administration that has the resources to get them off of the streets. You have to substitute what they’re doing with something positive — whether that is a career, getting them into trade program or giving them a good job that pays. We also need services in these communities that we don’t have from this administration. The administration definitely gets an `F’ when it comes to minority communities.”

Just last week, Lightfoot, a former Police Board president, was picking apart the consent decree Emanuel had negotiated with retiring Il. Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

“As mayor, I will confront our city’s gun violence directly and with empathy, rather than remaining silent as more than 70 people are shot in a single weekend,” Lightfoot was quoted as saying in a statement.

“Rahm Emanuel cannot sit this out. He’s the mayor and our city is facing a public health crisis. Taking on gun violence goes far beyond policing. It’s about poverty and reversing decades of disinvestment through quality schools career training, social services and jobs in neighborhoods that have been ignored for too long.”

Mayoral challenger Paul Vallas touted his plan to hire back as many as 400 retired Chicago Police detectives and restore two of Chicago’s five shuttered detective areas to bolster a clearance rate on homicides and other violent crime that is “one of the worst” among major U.S. cities.

“This is a crisis in which four out of five killers in Chicago are literally getting away with murder. Is it any wonder this past weekend witnesses more than 60 shootings in the city?” said Vallas, who held a news conference outside the 6th police district, where Emanuel and Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson were addressing the weekend violence.

“What Chicago witnessed this weekend was absolutely horrific and should not be tolerated…There is absolutely no substitute for an effective detective division that has the resources, capacity and experience to solve serious crimes.”

Mayoral candidate Paul Vallas talks to reporters at 78th and Halsted outside a Chicago Police district headquarters on Monday morning. Inside, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CPD Supt. Eddie Johnson were holding a news conference to discuss the level of gun violence in Chicago over the weekend. | Colin Boyle/Sun-Times

Giuliani’s support for McCarthy is not at all surprising.

In January, McCarthy proudly accepted a $5,600 campaign contribution from his former boss, but refused to be dragged into a discussion about Giuliani’s support for President Donald Trump.

“Rudy Giuliani has been a friend and a mentor to me for more than 20 years. I was with him on 9/11. He’s the guy who turned New York City in the direction that it’s still going in. Maybe Chicago should pay attention,” McCarthy said then.

“I’m happy and proud that he supports me and thinks that I can do a job like this. You don’t abandon your friends because of their politics. It has nothing to do with his politics,” he said. “It has to do with the fact that I worked for the guy for two years. Loyalty. Try it, Chicago.”

McCarthy said the Giuliani contribution “means that America’s mayor respects my ability to run a city. The guy knows me very well and knows what I’m capable of. It’s no deeper than that.”

As hard as Emanuel and his surrogates may try, McCarthy said he would not be drawn into a discussion about Trump or about Giuliani’s outspoken support for Trump, particularly during a fiery speech at the Republican National Convention.

At the time, Giuliani had not yet been hired to represent Trump in the ongoing investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller.

Referring to his role as chief crime strategist in the New York Police Department, McCarthy said, “It would be impossible for me to have been in my position in New York and not have known Donald Trump. So, for him to say something positive about me — suddenly I [am no good]? Come on. I also know Cory Booker, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Janet Napolitano. I mean — stop. It’s just stupid.”

McCarthy said he’s “been a Democrat from the day I could vote” and he “shouldn’t have to” explain whether he is for or against Trump — not even in this overwhelmingly Democratic city.

“Rahm makes everything a diversion. Let’s talk about global warming, instead of violence on the South Side of Chicago — what he’s actually accountable for. That’s the game he plays. I’m just not gonna play into it,” McCarthy said.

“If Donald Trump is gonna come and fix Chicago, let’s talk about him. Otherwise, let’s stop the nonsense. Let’s talk about bullets flying on the South and West Side and what anybody in this city is doing about it right now. … Do we want to talk about Brexit at the same time? That has as much to do with what’s happening in Chicago as Donald Trump. ”

The Chicago City Council Black Caucus issued the following statement on the extraordinary level of gun violence over the past weekend: “It is both horrific and heartbreaking to see that Chicago broke a record for gun violence this weekend. At least 74 people were shot betweenFriday and this morning; a dozen of them have succumbed to their wounds. Many victims were below age 17. “The inaction of our nation’s leaders is shocking and profoundly disappointing, for we know — and every police officer knows — that the easy access to firearms is a key to the epidemic. “Although we know better than to expect meaningful help from the current administration at the federal or state level, there is much we can do locally to stem the bloodshed and make our communities safer. And we cannot wait. “City Hall cannot wait for the consent decree to be fully debated and amended before we act. We cannot wait for the weather to cool off in the vain hope things will calm down.
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