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It’s time to try something besides simply reacting angrily to crises, Mayor Lightfoot

Friday, May 20, 2022

* Sun-Times op-ed a few days ago

First of all, we already have an 11 p.m. curfew for minors, but it is not enforced. Moving it to 10 p.m. does not make much difference unless there is a real commitment to actually enforce it.

Second, the Millennium Park curfew is fraught with risk. It will invite abuse, racial profiling and lead to countless negative encounters between police and people at a time when police-community relations are already strained.

Moreover, young people looking for excitement will simply choose other locations, as we have seen recently with activities at North Avenue Beach and in River North.

Instead of curfews, it’s time to get much more serious about violence prevention. We need more unarmed outreach workers on duty downtown during summer evenings and on weekends. These men and women, many of whom come from “the life,” know how to reach these young people at risk. They’ve been in their shoes. They can talk to them and show them how to stay safe.

We need more alternative activities for these young people, both downtown and in the neighborhoods. We need summer jobs and tax incentives for businesses that hire the formerly incarcerated. We need a massive public education campaign aimed at helping parents keep their kids safe. We need to celebrate what is right about Chicago to balance all of the media coverage about what is wrong about Chicago.

And yes, law enforcement must be part of the solution, but not with the tactics of the past. Instead of riot squads, Chicago needs police who have been specifically trained to deal with young people. There must also be a serious commitment to enforce the curfew we already have. […]

- Rev. Michael Pfleger is pastor of the Faith Community of St. Sabina. Rev. Otis Moss III is pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ. Rabbi Seth Limmer is Vice President of the Central Conference of American Rabbis. Rev. Ciera Bates-Chamberlain is executive director of Live Free Illinois. Arne Duncan is founder of Chicago CRED.

* WBEZ

Influential experts on gun violence, youth culture and recreation say the Black and brown teenagers flocking to the park, one of the city’s top tourist destinations, need a safe space to meet peers and experience independence from parents. And they say the city is blowing an opportunity to provide them with entertainment and services that could make a difference in their lives.

“Getting outside of their neighborhoods and taking advantage of all the beauty the city has to offer is something that we actually want them to engage in,” YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago CEO Dorri McWhorter said. “So, how can we support that, versus making it a public nuisance?” […]

McWhorter and others say the city should respond to chaotic youth gatherings in Millennium Park with an outpouring of programming and services involving city entities ranging from the school district to the public health department — a prescription consistent with the mayor’s avowed “whole-of-government approach” to the city’s two-year-old gun violence surge.

According to this view, the city should seize on the convergence of teenagers in that park, even try to draw in more, and start providing them everything from movies to hip-hop performances, from dance lessons to public health outreach about mental trauma and sexually transmitted infections.

“When we have incidents like [the shooting], we need to use them to galvanize more support, more coordination,” said Norman Livingston Kerr, a former assistant deputy mayor for public safety under Lightfoot. “We have to be thinking now about what young people need.”

Kerr said the strategy should include flooding the park and surrounding blocks with trained anti-violence workers along with cops.

But he said their goal should not be pushing teenagers back to their neighborhoods, many of which are unsafe.

“They’re getting shot at late-night hours,” Kerr said.

“I’m sure they feel safer downtown, many of them, because you see more cops,” Kerr said. “It’s not a bad place to be.”

* The Sun-Times op-ed authors were right about how kids would go somewhere else if they’re banned from the park

Two people were killed and eight people were wounded in a mass shooting late Thursday blocks from Michigan Avenue amid a continuing surge in violence downtown.

One person was in custody in connection with the incident, which started as a fight among a group of teens around 10:30 p.m. near the Chicago Avenue station on the CTA Red Line outside a McDonald’s restaurant, officials said. A gun was recovered, according to a statement from the Chicago Police Department. […]

The violence erupted on the first night that everyone younger than 18 was banned from Millennium Park by Lightfoot

* Massive failure by the city’s mayor…


* She talks like she’s running for mayor instead of, you know, actually occupying the city’s highest post

“Area residents, commuters, and others simply must have the peace of mind that this highly trafficked area is safe, and it is time for more specific, concrete steps to be taken to address this area once and for all,” Lightfoot said.

Yeah. Try following through on your campaign promises about policing alternatives and holding up your end when it comes to commitments to police staffing in hotspots. Sheesh.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

49 Comments
  1. - WestBurbs - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 9:30 am:

    Why is nobody talking about enforcing gun laws. While its tough to do so while maintaining civil rights (no NYC stop/frisk BS), its not impossible. We can’t ignore the fact that UUW charges are a joke in Cook County with no accountability and no deterrence factor. The problem isn’t the kids, it the guns.


  2. - WestBurbs - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 9:39 am:

    To be clear, my emphasis on enforcing gun laws doesn’t mean that I think the community efforts are worthless. While some of the press coverage is a little too fawning, the “violence interrupters” outreach people can do a lot of good with the kids, sometimes giving them a way to back down from a beef while saving face.


  3. - Ron Burgundy - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 9:41 am:

    To go with the prior comment, I’m not sure gathering large groups of teens intentionally is a great idea unless something can be done about the fact that a certain (hopefully small) percentage of them are carrying guns to these gatherings. I’m all for giving them alternative things to do, but not endangering them or others by bringing people with guns and grudges together. That’s been the root of the violence we have been seeing at the unsanctioned gatherings. And looking back on my youth, let’s face it, no one wanted to go to the events that the adults put on because they were supervised and weren’t any fun.

    And yes, enforce the curfew but how? Do you take large groups of teens in? It’s not like the old days when someone would be taken home or to the police station and their parents would pick them up and give them a talking-to. Some of these kids either don’t have parents at all or don’t have parents that care what they do. I don’t have the answer, but unless curfew violations are made to be something that people care about what’s the point in enforcing them?


  4. - Amalia - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 9:41 am:

    what is the security strategy for Millennium Park? it is not a part of the Chicago Park District system, right? so besides the curfew and the accompany with an adult, what else is standard? how is entry restricted? barriers/gateways? also, there are tons of parks and libraries across the city. what are the activities at night at each of these places? could it be that these don’t appeal because a “trend” is more alluring/dangerous and there is actually no topping that with teens? the only alternative is crowd management in many forms everywhere.


  5. - Rich Miller - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 9:41 am:

    ===Why is nobody talking about enforcing gun laws===

    LOL

    Seriously, what kind of question is that? Are you blind?


  6. - cermak_rd - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 9:58 am:

    The kids need things to do no doubt about it. And I agree getting them out of their neighborhoods is great! I get so depressed when I hear about people being jobless because there are no jobs in their neighborhood because one can go to another one to work. But if you haven’t spent considerable time out of your neighborhood then you might not know that.

    But unsuprvised groups of kids also can’t be intimidating tourists and locals or hurting each other. THe problem with planned activities, is they are planned often by older adults who don’t know what the kids are up to these days or are simply scheduled whereas a lot of people these days like the spontonaity of a meetup.

    Why not see if there are some young national guardmen from Austin or other challenged neighborhoods who could plan spontaneous things that will occupy the kids?

    I would wager a large % of the kids are just looking for fun. If you can separate those kids out from the trouble makers it would probably be a good start.


  7. - Sonny - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 9:59 am:

    Millennium Park was partially closed for big stretches during the pandemic and had security at different access points. The metal detectors are new but the concept isn’t.


  8. - mjrothjr - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 10:00 am:

    In response to Amalia’s question about Millennium Park, the City put up fencing/barriers around the park perimeter yesterday, with metal detectors and bag check stations at entrances. I saw it in person yesterday and it did not give me a warm and fuzzy feeling about being downtown and around that area. Cannot imagine what it must be like for tourists and visitors.


  9. - Levois J - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 10:02 am:

    Well I wonder if her talk about running for re-election is just hot air. These issues coming up is not very promising for ‘23…


  10. - Amalia - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 10:04 am:

    thanks for the info Sonny and mjrothjr. does not sound attractive but neither do shootings. recall visiting London and in Harrods every single counter had some form of security locks that were beeping like crazy. not attractive but clearly something they thought they needed.


  11. - Steve - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 10:09 am:

    This is Chicago’s biggest short term problem. What do you with young people who don’t have parents that can take care of them ? If many people fear coming downtown, they will not.


  12. - Publius - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 10:18 am:

    Curfew is more for parents to enforce. If large number of teens are un-supervised then there is nothing to be done. The police cannot take them in and have their parents get them if they don’t care. Maybe we should ask why all these teens are un-supervised.


  13. - TNR - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 10:25 am:

    I agree with Pfleger et al about the uselessness of changing the curfew, but the unaccompanied minor rule for Millennium Park is sensible and hardly a novelty — many suburban shopping malls do the same. It’s one thing to have a large group of kids acting a bit rowdy, but once gun-play is introduced to the mix, changes have to be made.


  14. - AlfondoGonz - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 10:26 am:

    Will a serious challenger please present her or himself?


  15. - levivotedforjudy - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 10:33 am:

    Something is off in the official statements from the mayor and CPD. I have been asking friends who take public transportation to get around if they have seen any police or security reps on the trains. The answer is no. I ride the Red Line (but not after 8 p.m. now). The one time I did see some, 4 police and 3 security reps were standing “together” at the Jackson Red Line stop. I saw the chaos on TV of the Bean incident. So someone was supposed to talk down kids jumping on top of cars and buses? The “bad” isn’t over yet, unfortunately.


  16. - Miso - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 10:33 am:

    “ and holding up your end when it comes to commitments to police staffing in hotspots. Sheesh.”

    Staffing you say? Every single CPD PO/ Det has had their days off cancelled for the next two weeks. Every one. Tired, angry police is never a good idea. On top of that, Every officer knows they will be blasted again when the end of the year OT numbers come out.


  17. - don the legend - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 10:34 am:

    ==Maybe we should ask why all these teens are un-supervised.==

    OK, I’ll ask. “Why?” Sheesh


  18. - City Guy - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 10:37 am:

    I recognize that many of the “bad” kids may not have good parental guidance. But good parents can fail. A friend who was a public defender said many of the kids he defended came from good hard working families. Even the best parent can have their child commit a violent crime.

    Another issue is historically downtown was a safe place for youth, even those in gangs. It was a neutral zone. Parents letting their kids “goof around” downtown, may actually think their kid is safer than hanging around the neighborhood. And the reality is they likely are safer.

    I agree with the increase in anti-violence programs. But we also need to make sure we are creating jobs for the youth. And we also need to address lead poisoning which directly correlates to violent crime.


  19. - SAP - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 10:38 am:

    I’ve seen Mayor Lightfoot point fingers hundreds of times, but I don’t recall her ever using her thumbs.


  20. - Willowglen - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 10:43 am:

    If you really enforce the gun laws, and I mean really enforce them, with prosecution and jail terms such as those obtained during the Plaxico Burress era in New York City (an excellent Giants wide receiver who gave himself an accidental self inflicted wound), a whole lot of people will go into and stay in the criminal justice system, and the demographics will be disturbing. This is another factor in the gun violence problem.


  21. - Telly - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 10:44 am:

    == Influential experts on gun violence, youth culture and recreation say the Black and brown teenagers flocking to the park, one of the city’s top tourist destinations, need a safe space to meet peers and experience independence from parents. ==

    Agreed. But given the recent shootings, It would seem Millennium Park is no longer a “safe space” for those kids to gather.


  22. - PublicServant - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 10:50 am:

    === It’s time to try something besides simply reacting angrily to crises ===

    Come election time, we will, Lori. You too Kim.


  23. - WestBurbs - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 10:57 am:

    Rich - I’m not blind but perhaps I missed the change in CCSA office policy that shows them bringing strong charges/prosecuting every person arrested with an illegal gun. People get busted everyday for having an illegal gun and get charged with misdemeanor UUW (at most). Sure, you’ll see gun charges when other violent conduct occurs (jackers, shooters, muggers, etc) but I’m talking about simple (illegal)possession. Happy to be informed if you have anything about that….


  24. - WestBurbs - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 11:01 am:

    Willowglen — that is an excellent counterargument — kid makes a “mistake” by carrying b/c he is scared - and now he is in the system and likely never getting a decent education/job. And it is primarily black/brown urban kids. One thing to do is try to reform the post-jail system to allow released prisoners better shots at the job market.

    But, at the end of the day, we can’t curb violence without getting guns off the street. And while I hate the collateral damage, I hate shootings even more….


  25. - Blue Dog - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 11:05 am:

    how about a radical new idea. mandatory gun safety classes for all high school juniors. we’ve tried countless punitive ideas. we’ve tried countless social initiatives. maybe. just maybe if we teach the dangers and repercussions of using a firearm it may just sink in to a few.


  26. - James the Intolerant - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 11:15 am:

    And where would those specific, concrete steps come from?


  27. - Cool Papa Bell - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 11:23 am:

    @Ron - These are my feelings too… “I’m not sure gathering large groups of teens intentionally is a great idea unless something can be done about the fact that a certain (hopefully small) percentage of them are carrying guns to these gatherings.”

    And there are all sorts of problems at many of the other large parks in Chicago. I guessing many “good” kids go to Millennium Park to get away from the “bad” kids and those kids show up and cause trouble.

    Jackson Park and Washington Park aren’t safe at times to be in - but it’s not in the lily white downtown so it’s gone mostly unnoticed

    I just have no good idea how much of this gets solved. Police need to be a part of it, but that opens the door to profiling and over aggressive actions. Parents have to be involved but they often don’t care or can’t control a kid who really wants to cause someone harm.


  28. - Anon - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 11:30 am:

    Probably a taste of things to come this summer. It’s a lack of supervision. A lack of care. Please don’t dump more instructional mandates on schools and teachers. The people who should be raising children to be good, law abiding citizens is primarily parents and family. No matter what you mandate teachers to teach, their impact is minimal, compared to the family (or lack of). Place responsibility where it should belong.


  29. - Donnie Elgin - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 11:31 am:

    “Moreover, young people looking for excitement will simply choose other locations, as we have seen recently with activities at North Avenue Beach and in River North”

    All due respect to Father Pfleger but those shooting and killing innocent bystanders are not looking for excitement, they are criminals.


  30. - Louis G Atsaves - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 11:50 am:

    On the Griffin video posted in response to the violence the other night on another thread here, the most stunning part was not the vehicles being attacked, or blocking traffic. It is the noise of sirens in the background approaching, and not a single person depicted on that tape ran off or looked alarmed or even slightly annoyed by that development.

    But never fear, the CPD has been busy issuing press releases that they are successfully dispersing these fearless crowds, with no mentions of arrests.

    That used to be called disorderly conduct. Now what do we call it?


  31. - Da big bad wolf - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 12:02 pm:

    === This is Chicago’s biggest short term problem. What do you with young people who don’t have parents that can take care of them ? If many people fear coming downtown, they will not.===

    They have no parents? That’s a huge assumption you’re making.


  32. - low level - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 12:28 pm:

    This Mayor got 72% in the runoff vs Preckwinkle. I really wonder what she will get this time around.

    The comment by the Deputy Mayor for Public Safety is ridiculous on Twitter.


  33. - Da big bad wolf - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 12:59 pm:

    === The comment by the Deputy Mayor for Public Safety is ridiculous on Twitter.===
    John O’Malley is right though.


  34. - Enviro - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 1:23 pm:

    The best way to prevent children from becoming involved in crime is providing quality preschool.

    “Research tells us that giving a child the right start in life can prevent later crime, mainly as the children’s intellect, emotions, and empathy are built in the foundations of their youth.

    Because of this fact, researchers and advocates have long studied the impact that early education — particularly preschool — can have on children.

    In Chicago, researchers have studied the lives of over 100,000 three- and four-year-olds since 1967, following them up until the age of 28. They found that children who did not participate in preschool were 70 percent more likely to be arrested for violent crime by age 18, according to Fight Crime: Invest in Kids.”

    https://thecrimereport.org/2021/10/15/preschool-prevents-crime-report/


  35. - low level - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 1:54 pm:

    == John O’Malley is right though.==

    And his approach is indicative of why this mayor os failing. 100% amateurs all around.


  36. - JS Mill - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 2:11 pm:

    =just maybe if we teach the dangers and repercussions of using a firearm it may just sink in to a few.=

    By 17 these kids know what guns can do. As a previous poster noted, this is not on the schools, parents and community need to address this issue.

    The IDNR runs a great program for hunter safety that includes (mostly) gun safety. There is the place to start if you want to teach gun safety.

    In reality, it isn’t the city of chicago’s job to provide entertainment for kids, but I do understand the emphasis. The place to start with this idea is the Chicago Park District. They are accustomed to running programs for kids of all ages that are of interests to them. Extend the hours of the programs and have a youth oriented police presence along with other violence prevention personnel. The infrastructure is there and it would require fewer police in a less punitive/authoritarian stance. Pay/encourage off duty cops and city employees to be a part of the program and build relationships. If done right, it would be a huge value and the ROI would be astronomical.


  37. - Blue Dog - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 2:22 pm:

    by 17 they know…. apparently not. but none the less. teach it in conjunction with DARE. what have we to lose.


  38. - Da big bad wolf - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 2:32 pm:

    === All due respect to Father Pfleger but those shooting and killing innocent bystanders are not looking for excitement, they are criminals.===
    Well yes, after they shoot someone, but the shooters didn’t go out to socialize planning on being shooters. They get in a fight and then became shooters. So Father Pfleger’s point is valid. How do we run interference? With jobs and activities. Kids are bored and have a lot of energy. This gives us something to work with.


  39. - Da big bad wolf - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 3:07 pm:

    === And his approach is indicative of why this mayor os failing. 100% amateurs all around.===

    John O’Malley is no amateur. He a former US Marshall, worked on the police board and worked in private security. And it’s true that the McDonalds at Chicago and State attracts young people. My daughter used to hang out there a dozen year ago when she was a teen and it was always mobbed with kids.
    What has O’Malley said that is the wrong approach? “We should be working together to solve problems..” You think Chicagoans shouldn’t be working together to solve problems?”


  40. - low level - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 3:39 pm:

    ==And it’s true that the McDonalds at Chicago and State attracts young people. ==

    Yes I am quite familar with the area. I went to grade school right across the street.

    O’Malley should have said, “Yes, Brendan, I agree and will be calling you to set up an appointment to talk about the issues there”. Or not even responded publically but rather phoned the Alderman as soon as he read the tweet.


  41. - Chitruth - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 3:39 pm:

    How about a fine for parents whose kids break the law? How about jail time for kids or adults who break the law? How about doing something about the fact that roughly 80% of black kids in the city are being raised by a mother with little or no involvement by a father? How about hiring more police and dialing way back on anti-police myths?


  42. - low level - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 3:44 pm:

    Instead, O’Malley made it out to seem like its the Alderman’s fault there are problems at the McDonalds there. Which is what this mayor and her weak administration does.

    100% amateurs.


  43. - Montrose - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 3:49 pm:

    All due respect to those that have already entered the field (and the level of due respect varies), but I don’t understand why a stronger candidate has not stepped in to challenge Lightfoot (outside of the obvious that it is a really hard job.)


  44. - Dee4Three - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 3:50 pm:

    The idea that we don’t enforce gun laws is a bit of a joke. There are literally thousands of gun possession charges in the city and Illinois penalties are amongst the highest in the nation. We’re gonna keep on failing if we keep on hanging on to the idea that gun violence exists because local actors aren’t taking things seriously.


  45. - Da big bad wolf - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 3:56 pm:

    === How about doing something about the fact that roughly 80% of black kids in the city are being raised by a mother with little or no involvement by a father?===
    Doing something? What did you have in mind?


  46. - DuPage - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 4:11 pm:

    There is a shortage of police officers in Chicago. They are losing a large number to retirement and are only able to get a much smaller number of new recruits. About time for Lightfoot to end the residency requirement for police and for that matter all city employees. Every one that moves to the suburbs will be one less person that will be able to vote against her.


  47. - Montrose - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 4:17 pm:

    “How about doing something about the fact that roughly 80% of black kids in the city are being raised by a mother with little or no involvement by a father?”

    What’s your citation for this data point? Urban Myths Weekly?


  48. - DuPage - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 4:21 pm:

    @- Chitruth - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 3:39 pm:
    ===How about doing something about the fact that roughly 80% of black kids in the city are being raised by a mother with little or no involvement by a father? ===

    I saw one of the Preachers from a Black Church speaking about that subject. He said if the boys do not have a father, the gang becomes the father.


  49. - cermak_rd - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 4:24 pm:

    Having only 1 parent can be a problem for some families, but in many cases there appear to be no concerned adults involved.


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