Chicago’s police chief announced late Monday that the city will deploy 1,200 additional police officers to “hot zones” experiencing an increase in violence, in hopes of containing a wave of shootings that has left dozens dead — including at least 10 children — and hundreds wounded.
Chicago Police Supt. David Brown announced that officers will work additional shifts from Thursday until Sunday and focus on controlling violence on the city’s south and west sides over the holiday weekend. The department will also be working proactively to control crowds gathering in violent areas before shooting breaks out.
“We’ll be deployed throughout our hotspots, we’ll be working with city services, we’re engaging our violence interrupters, and so it’s a full-court press,” Brown said. “Our endgame is arrests for the precursors to violence, so every day we’re going to be clearing corners.”
Brown blamed the city’s spike in violence on “open-air drug markets” and gangs taking advantage of ongoing anti-racism protests to increase activity, recruiting younger members, and increasing street-level drug operations.
“It’s an evil methodology. It’s why they’re on the corners because it protects the masterminds,” Brown said. “They are there because there’s no opportunity in their neighborhood. They are there because of the failures, and many other social service opportunities are just not available to them, but that’s why they’re there; to feed their families. It’s a bad choice.”
The increase in police presence will require officers to work overtime hours, Brown said. It’s something that the city has avoided over the last several weekends after forcing cops to work overtime to handle protests and rioting in the wake of George Floyd’s death on Memorial Day.
Chicago, though, has experienced a shocking increase in gun violence since the city lifted its coronavirus-related lockdown. Beginning in May, when the city set a record for the most people shot in a single weekend since 2016, hundreds of individuals have been shot and dozens have died. Over the course of the last week, six children have been shot and two killed, including a 20-month-old boy and a 10-year-old girl.
The week before, a 3-year-old boy was shot and killed.
Last weekend alone, Chicago’s Fox affiliate reports, 65 people were shot and 18 people were killed. Overall, since January of 2020, 300 people have been killed by gun violence in the city — a grim milestone that, in 2019, took until August to reach.
Chicago’s mayor Lori Lightfoot addressed the violence in a press conference Monday afternoon.
“The last two Mondays, I’ve woken up with an incredible sense of dread, incredible feeling of despair, because of the weekend violence,” she said. “This can’t be who we are, as a city.”
So far, Lightfoot has resisted President Donald Trump’s offers to allow Federal agencies to assist in Chicago’s violence control, but that resistance seems to be thawing.
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