Even as the city remains under a stay-at-home order, Chicago officials reported 49 shootings — including 10 fatalities — over the Memorial Day weekend.
According to David Brown, the city’s police superintendent, the number of shootings between Friday morning and Monday evening was the highest Chicago had seen over the holiday weekend since 2015.
Additionally, year-to-date shootings in 2020 have eclipsed the same period last year despite the fact that a significant portion of it has been spent under some form of coronavirus-related lockdown.
“People are feeling restless”
In fact, Brown believes the ongoing restrictions — in addition to gang disputes and drug deals — could have contributed to the latest outbreak of violence.
“The effects of the coronavirus also go beyond hospitalizations,” he said. “People are feeling restless after being cooped up for weeks.”
Such restlessness was also evident in the number of citations issued for gatherings in excess of mandated limits. In total, about 900 such citations were handed out, requiring those large groups to disperse.
“The violence throughout the city on Memorial Day weekend was nothing short of alarming,” Brown said. “This unaccepted level of violence happened while Chicago remained under the stay-at-home order meant to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
“We have to do better”
Though Mayor Lori Lightfoot acknowledged that law enforcement has been hamstrung to some extent because jails were “effectively closed to new persons” in light of the coronavirus crisis, she said the police effort to stop violence over the weekend was insufficient.
‘This was a fail,” she said. “Whatever the strategy is, it didn’t work. We have to do better. We cannot have weekends in the summer turn into a bloodbath. And this weekend’s violence was out of control.”
The more than four dozen shootings also occurred as 370 mediators chosen to help prevent violence had been dispatched into the streets of Chicago f.
“There is no circumstance like the one we are facing right now when it comes to public safety,” Lightfoot added. “The only way we start to … drive down the numbers … is if all the other parts of the ecosystem come back online.”
If stay-at-home orders have not prevented these shootings and might have actually exacerbated the situation, it seems those who are advocating for reopening this city and others across the nation have another argument to support their position.