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Chicago officials announce 4th of July weekend safety plan to combat violence, shootings

ABC 7 Chicago logo ABC 7 Chicago 7/3/2020 WLS
Chicago officials reveal July 4th weekend safety plan

Chicago's mayor and police superintendent laid out their plans Thursday to curb violence in the city this 4th of July holiday weekend, including 1,200 more police officers on the streets.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced a new violence prevention dash board to identify hot spots throughout the city, and coordinate efforts between police and violence prevention groups to try and make the holiday weekend safe.

Chicago police will be doing their part this weekend, but the mayor said it must be an all-hands-on-deck effort across Chicago if the city is going to avoid a repeat of the past two deadly weekends.

"It's not just on the police department. Not just on the fire department. Not just on elected officials," Lightfoot said. "All of us have to embrace our notion of community and think about what we can do, each of us in our own way, to make our communities safe and healthy and vibrant."

WATCH: Chicago officials announce July 4th weekend safety plan

With more officers on the streets from Thursday to Sunday, they will be focusing on getting illegal guns off the street.

"I will also have officers on foot patrols across our neighborhoods including the walking beat to get to know their neighborhood and residents and protecting them so they can celebrate safely," Supt. Brown said.

Police will be partnering with community groups to help deter violence.

"We'll be working around the clock," said Chris Patterson, with the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago. "And in most cases across the city, you'll see outreach workers, case managers and victim advocates working from a 2pm to 2am shift and even longer than that, because we know that maybe half of the conflicts that are arising are happening after midnight."

Officers will be monitoring social media for large gatherings - and not just to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

"We know that in certain areas that are plagued by gun violence, large gatherings are a recipe for disaster," Lightfoot said.

They mayor had this message to those bent on violence: "Before you pick up a firearm and pull the trigger aiming for somebody else, think about the number of children that have been killed just in the last two weeks."

Supt. Brown said the best way to reduce violence is to prevent it from happening in the first place. He is hoping his officers will be able to make that happen this weekend, but workers at a day care center near the Englewood Police District said they still worry about safety.

"They can't be everywhere, they're right across the street and things still happen right across the street," said LaParish Trimuel, director of Learn Together Grow Together. "So it's like, what can we do?"

Supt. Brown said the department will participate in a series of #HitTheHood events to provide peaceful opportunities to celebrate the holiday weekend. Activists say their message is simple: those who want peace in Chicago far outnumber those who would point a gun.

"It is important that we take back our streets," said Cleopatra Draper, with the #HitTheHood Coalition. "In order to combat violence, we have to get out and be active."

"Things ain't never going to change in Chicago until we change," community organizer Jahmal Cole said. "Things ain't never going to get better until we get better."

Mayor Lightfoot said she is standing behind a decision by Brown to sweep young people off drug corners. The ACLU is criticizing the plan to sweep those corners, but the Mayor Lightfoot is not changing her mind. She said gangs are putting kids out on the streets to do their dirty work.

"If any civil liberties group has a problem with people who are killing our people over drug spots, let's have a conversation because you need to have your attitude readjusted," Lightfoot said.

Lightfoot also appeared on CNN Thursday night to discuss the topic. She told Chris Cuomo that crime emerges from neighborhoods where people lose hope, lacking access to jobs, health care and education.

As for President Trump's criticism about crime in Chicago, the mayor said he shows no leadership, and has never called her and asked what he can do to help

Area community groups say they will be out in force this holiday weekend in tandem with police to help prevent violence in their neighborhoods.

On the eve of the long holiday weekend, hundreds gathered to march for peace at St. Sabina Church, where a street mural now reads "Demand Justice."

"Everybody came out when George Floyd was killed, and we should have," Father Michael Pfleger said. "But we ought to come out when our babies are killed, too."

Some business owners fed up with the violence created the group "I'm Telling, Don't Shoot." This weekend, they're bringing in several security companies and violence prevention organizations along with clergy to monitor the streets. They will be another set of eyes for police. Kates Security Company on the South Side is pitching in resources and manpower to help.

WATCH: South Side security company to help police over 4th of July weekend

"With the skill set and training at Kates Security, he has been so gracious to give additional resources and give additional coverage to beats that we consider our most activity beats," said Ald. Stephanie Coleman, 16th Ward.

"We believe in no incidents. I have a very trained team. We come here to help the alderman and help the community," said Bill Kates, of Kates Security.

Kates said his team is not there to make arrests, but to alert police when they see trouble.

State Representative LaShawn Ford wants long-term solutions to keep kids out of harm's way and occupied. He brought together local athletes to demand more investment in young people from education to athletics. Ford said the city needs to do more than beef up patrols this weekend.

WATCH: Hundreds march for peace on Chicago's South Side

"It is very, very important that the city or Chicago, state of Illinois, not only push cops for the holiday," Rep. Ford said. "We need to open our parks. We need to open up our parks so the young people can go swimming, so the young people can play basketball."

Like so many mothers primarily on the South and West sides, Quinniya Hearn is worried about the holiday weekend. She has an 8-year-old daughter who is looking forward to the Fourth of July.

"I am more fearful now because I can't even determine what are fireworks versus gunshots now," Hearn said.

She said her heart goes out to the parents who have recently lost children to gun violence. Hearn and her daughter are likely going to spend the weekend at home.

"What is the solution? That is my question," Hearn said. "I think more of us need to continue together and put our brains together to figure it out."


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