After one of the city’s bloodiest weekends in years, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel revealed the key element of his plan to stop the gang violence tearing apart the city’s south and west sides: begging people not to shoot each other.
Speaking at a press conference Tuesday, Emanuel claimed that stemming the city’s violence would require an “attitudinal change” and that people in neighborhoods plagued by shootings should “be a neighbor.”
Rahm then rambled into an explanation about how Chicagoans can no longer blame a lack of jobs or warm summer weather for the sharp increase in violence.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel: "You can talk about the weather, but the weather didn't pull the trigger. You can talk about jobs, and they count, but in parts of the city where there aren't jobs, people did not pull the trigger." https://t.co/O7smQpUa48 pic.twitter.com/IZvHFdu2dC
— ABC News (@ABC) August 6, 2018
“This might not be politically correct, but I know the power of what faith and family can do,” Emanuel added. “There is nothing on the streets of Chicago that is stronger than what is in the faith community and what’s in family. Our kids need that structure.”
Emanuel’s attention to societal factors may be coming too little too late. The city has struggled with gang violence all year, and last weekend more than 70 individuals were shot in a spate of violence that included at least four “mass shootings” — shootings involving four or more victims. This year, 1,780 people have been shot in Chicago; more than 300 of those victims have died.
The violence is largely contained to several gang-ridden neighborhoods, but Chicago’s police force hasn’t been able to come up with an effective strategy to curb the block-by-block warfare. Instead, both the mayor and the police chief begged neighbors to come forward with information on who is doing the shooting.
Emanuel also pledged additional officers and to partner with the federal government, where appropriate, to handle organized street crime.
The plan isn’t likely to work — Chicago has already tried re-assigning officers, and crime simply moves to areas with fewer patrols — and Emanuel may be the one to pay the price. The Chicago mayoral election is only six months away and already, no fewer than ten candidates have declared their intention to challenge Emanuel, who is seeking a third term.
Even a change in leadership may not save Chicago. When Emanuel won his second term, he sailed to victory over a self-declared socialist — a challenger from the left, and the only official challenger to survive to a runoff. Neither candidate was an ideal choice to address the city’s issues.