Chicago Mayor Defends Youth Riot That Saw Assaults, Shootings

The events of the weekend were not actually as bad as they appeared to be, Lori Lightfoot says.

AP/Erin Hooley
The mayor of Chicago, Lori Lightfoot, participates in a forum with other mayoral candidates at Chicago. AP/Erin Hooley

Chicago’s mayor, Lori Lightfoot, broke her silence and is now defending the actions of those who were involved in an array of assaults, property damages, and shootings by mobs of unruly teens over the weekend. 

Videos of the chaos quickly made their way across social media. Hundreds of Chicago teens were shown jumping on cars and city buses, destroying storefronts, and even severely beating passers-by. Chicago police had to escort individuals back to their cars and the Chicago Transit Authority had to temporarily suspend service to the area. 

On Monday, Ms. Lightfoot said the events of the weekend were not actually as bad as they appeared to be. “The  mass majority of the young people who came downtown, came downtown because there was great weather and it was an opportunity to enjoy the city,” Ms. Lightfoot said at a press conference. “That’s absolutely, entirely appropriate.”

“There are a few that came with different intentions,” she added. “They have and they will be dealt with. But I’m not going to use your language, which I think is wrong, to say there’s mayhem.”

In a statement released by her office, Ms. Lightfoot said that parents should shoulder some blame for the riots. “Most importantly, parents and guardians must know where their children are and be responsible for their actions,” she said. “Instilling the important values of respect for people and property must begin at home.”

The crowd of what appeared to be hundreds of youths was gathered near Millennium Park, a popular spot for young people that has a history of seeing increased crime during the summer. Last year, the city banned unaccompanied minors from entering the park after 6 p.m. following the murder of a 16-year old.

Many amateur videos believed to be from the past weekend have gone viral on social media. One widely followed crime-focused news outlet, CWBChicago, posted a shocking video of two bystanders being brutally assaulted and robbed by some of those youths who were rioting in Chicago over the weekend. 

In a statement, the Chicago police department said “the victims, a 22-year old male and a 20-year old female” did not know the assailants. Law enforcement added that the group of attackers “struck the victims several times before taking their personal property and fleeing.” The two were admitted to the hospital “with minor injuries.”

The riots primarily took place in Chicago’s downtown Loop area, which is home to Millennium Park. By the end of the youth violence over the weekend, two teen boys had been shot and 15 individuals were arrested.

The Chicago Loop Alliance — an organization that promotes business and leisure in the neighborhood — said they are concerned about what kind of violence the coming summer might bring. 

The president and chief executive of the group, Michael Edwards, told WGN9 that he is prepared to help defend businesses. “Our Chicago Loop Alliance ambassadors and unarmed security remained vigilant of the situation throughout the night. While this is not a frequent occurrence in the Loop, we are prepared to work with all relevant partners and parties in response to when these trends are detected,” Mr. Edwards said. 

The city’s mayor-elect, Brandon Johnson, went even further than Ms. Lightfoot in defending the youth violence. While he disavowed “destructive activity,” Mr. Johnson blamed the events of the weekend on a lack of community resources for young people. 

“It is not constructive to demonize youth who have otherwise been starved of opportunities in their own communities,” Mr. Johnson said in a statement on Sunday. “Our city must work together to create spaces for youth to gather safely and responsibly, under adult guidance and supervision.”

The New York Sun

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