President Barack Obama celebrated his birthday on Saturday, August 4, and for the first time, Illinois marked the date to honor the former president. This weekend, however, also marked a surge of gun violence in Obama’s adopted hometown of Chicago.
Eleven people have died and 73 have been wounded, but most of the violence occurred on Sunday, according to NBC Chicago. In a span of seven hours starting around midnight on Saturday, at least 40 people were shot — four fatally.
ABC 7 Chicago has been updating its story on the violence throughout the weekend, and previously reported, according to The Daily Wire, that 63 people had been shot since Friday at 5 p.m. During one 2.5-hour period Sunday morning, 25 people were shot in five separate shootings. The news outlet also reported that despite the deadly weekend, the Chicago Police Department said shootings are down 30% so far this year. Chicago Police Chief of Patrol Fred Waller said Sunday that 5,500 illegal guns had been taken off the streets this year.
"Detectives are working around the clock to investigate the incidents, build a timeline of events and identify any shooter," Waller said. "We'll also be conducting coordinated enforcement missions to target individuals that are driving the violence in these areas and focus on where we believe retaliatory violence may occur."
The violence occurred as thousands attended Lollapalooza, though it does not appear as though any concert goers were among the victims.
Saturday marked the first time Obama’s birthday was officially honored in the state, following passage of a bill to do so last year. The legislation stated the former president’s birthday would be observed “as a day set apart to honor the 44th President of the United States of America who began his career serving the People of Illinois in both the Illinois State Senate and the United States Senate, and dedicated his life to protecting the rights of Americans and building bridges across communities.”
The day is not an official statewide holiday, meaning the government would not shut down. Lawmakers had originally wanted government workers to be granted the day off, but even the governor’s office criticized the notion, citing budget concerns with giving state employees another paid holiday.
Obama is not the only president who has such a day in their home state. California celebrates “Ronald Reagan Day” on his birthday, February 6.
Violence in Chicago is largely ignored by gun-control activists. The city has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation, yet shootings still occur from those illegally obtaining firearms.
This article has been updated to reflect more recent information on the number of shooting victims.