Monday, April 17, 2023

Wild Scene in Chicago

I was very pleased that Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson defeated school "reformer" Paul Vallas to succeed Lori Lightfoot as the next mayor Chicago. Johnson  A former teacher, Johnson supports neighborhood public schools while Vallas has been (in)famous for being hired by major cities and others to implement "school choice" programs, which undermine the traditional public school.  Not coincidentally, it appears Johnson, who will be sworn in on May 15, is going to be a pro-labor mayor.

However, this past weekend was a violent one as

Chicago police responded to massive crowds of teenagers Saturday night at Millennium Park, one day after a similar gathering took place at 31st Street Beach, prompting police to heighten their presence along the lakefront.

Video taken Saturday night showed a massive presence at the park, along with large groups of people in the area. A similar gathering took place Friday night near 31st Street Beach and eventually came to an end after a teenager was shot.

One witness, who asked not to be identified, said he saw a chaotic scene unfold.

"It’s heartbreaking, kids fighting, chasing each other, some of them got guns," he said. "It's really heartbreaking when one of them actually gets hurt, and that’s unfortunate, happened last night."

Hundreds of teenagers, possibly even thousands, gathered at the beach after seeing flyers posted on social media for a meetup of teens.....

"It was a car, they were standing on multiple cars, standing on cars, and one of the cars just kept driving in circles, which I believe that’s the one that caught on fire, they set on fire," the witness said.

Police didn't release additional specifics on the incident, but did say it "continually monitors and adjusts resources as necessary so residents and visitors can safely enjoy the city, including our beaches and lakefront area."

"Last night, CPD monitored activity happening across the city and officers were in place to quickly respond to active incidents and large gatherings," the statement added. "We will continue to have sufficient resources in place as we work to strengthen safety in every neighborhood."

Police say a squad car was also damaged, but no officers were injured. Police did arrest one person Friday night, a 17-year-old boy, who has been accused of multiple gun crimes.

Demonstrating how not to respond to a riot, Mayor-elect Johnson tweeted

In no way do I condone the destructive activity we saw in the Loop and lakefront this weekend, It is unacceptable and has no place in our city. However, it is not constructive to demonize youth who have otherwise been starved of opportunities in their own communities.

Our city must work together to create spaces for youth to gather safely and responsibly, under adult guidance and supervision, to ensure that every part of our city remains welcome for both residents and visitors. This is one aspect of my comprehensive approach to improve public safety and make Chicago livable for everyone.

This was not the time to consider carefully the root causes of crime and the systemic changes needed to curb it. Johnson's statement was a triumph of bad timing.  When a riot breaks out in your city, the response "I don't like it, but...." is an empty gesture. Claiming you're not condoning criminal behavior, and then offering an excuse for it fools no one.

And an excuse it was.  Johnson attributed the violent mayhem to "youth who have otherwise been starved of opportunities in their own neighborhoods."

These were not young people rioting because they were hungry, ill-housed, or unemployed. They were not stealing a loaf of bread to feed their family or exaggerating their work experience to get a job, nor because they have nowhere to gather safely and responsibly.  They were not looking for "adult guidance and supervision." Though the mayhem featured property damage

Two boys—aged 16 and 17—who were standing in a crowd the 100 block of East Washington Street were wounded when shots were fired at around 9 p.m., Chicago police said. The 16-year was shot in the right arm, while the 17-year was shot in the left leg.

Both were taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in a fair condition, police said. No one is in custody in connection with that shooting, and an investigation is ongoing.

It was only a few weeks ago when, following mass murder at Covenant School in Nashville, a Democratic state senator, channeling a half-brother of Jesus and son of Mary, stated "prayers are good, but faith without works is dead. Let's not let another preventable tragedy unfold without this legislature taking real action." Two members were expelled from Tennessee's other chamber for raucously demanding gun safety legislation.  Just last week, the New Hampshire Democratic Party slammed Governor Chris Sununu, headed for Indianapolis to speak at the annual NRA convention, because Sununu "values his NRA rating more than the safety of granite staters. His record on gun safety is abhorrent...."

So it goes, with Democrats denouncing gun violence after every mass shooting, thus exceeding whatever little concern Republicans muster. However, violence everywhere must be condemned and not excused as a spontaneous, harmless outburst by bored youth. If the residents of Chicago have any luck, Mayor Johnson will quickly come to that understanding.

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