CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Monday said “we have to stand up and do a hell of a lot more” in the wake of a weekend that saw more than 50 people shot in Chicago, as well as two deadly mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, that left at least 29 people dead and dozens more wounded.
“There are no adequate words at this point,” Lightfoot said Monday morning. “I feel for the mayors, I absolutely feel for the people whose lives have now been irreparably shattered by this chaos that is coming at the end of a gun, and seeing the horrifying images of the shooter in the Walmart in El Paso, those are images that sear into your brain; and you never, never escape.”
In El Paso, Texas on Saturday, 20 people were killed and dozens were injured in a shooting near a shopping mall.
U.S. Attorney John Bash said they will pursue a criminal investigation, a civil rights hate crime investigation and “domestic terrorism” charges against the suspect, who was identified as 21-year-old Patrick Crusius.
Officials have referenced a document allegedly left behind by Crusius, and said the shooting may have a “nexus” to a hate crime. The writer of the document denounces the increasing Hispanic population of Texas and gives that as a reason for his actions.
Early Sunday, nine people were killed and 27 others were injured in a shooting in Dayton, Ohio. A gunman wearing body armor opened fire in Dayton’s Oregon District, a historic neighborhood home to bars, restaurants and theaters.
The gunman was identified as 24-year-old Connor Betts, of Bellbrook, Ohio. He was shot and killed by local police.
The mayor said the nation’s response to the mass shootings needs to start with stricter gun control laws, particularly universal background checks on all gun purchases.
“Universal background checks should be non-controversial, and yet it is.” she said.
President Donald Trump also suggested on Twitter on Monday that Congress pass stricter background checks, although he did not provide any details when he discussed the mass shootings in an address at the White House.
Lightfoot said the president needs to do more to make sure Congress takes action on stricter gun laws.
“Use not just the bully pulpit of his office, but his weight in Congress to move forward on common-sense gun reform. If the president weighs in, if he shows these Republicans that they can actually have courage, we can get this done,” she said. “But if he stands back and continues to do what he’s been doing, and just tweets, and demonizes, and he skitters the surface, it matters not.”
The mayor said Trump needs to put an end to his recent rhetoric that many have called racist.
For more than a week, President Trump has repeatedly criticized Rep. Elijah Cummings on Twitter, calling his largely African American district “a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess.” He also stirred outrage earlier this month when he tweeted that four minority Democratic congresswomen should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came,” even though all four are American citizens and three were born in the U.S.
“As the leader of our country, I implore the president to set a better, clearer moral tone, because what he’s been doing is blowing every racist xenophobic dog whistle, and when you do that, when you blow that kind of dog whistle, animals come out,” Lightfoot said.
President Trump called out “white supremacy” by name Monday and and urged the nation to condemn it with one voice in the wake of the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, and the racist manifesto authorities believe the suspect posted shortly beforehand.
“In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry, and white supremacy. These sinister ideologies must be defeated. Hate has no place in America,” the president said in a speech Monday in the White House Diplomatic room.
The president called for “bipartisan solutions” after the weekend’s mass shootings in El Paso and in Dayton, Ohio. Although the president didn’t specifically call for new restrictions on guns, he did reiterate his support for “red flag” laws to keep guns out of the hands of people who appear to pose an imminent threat. But he did not call for stricter background checks, as he had suggested in a tweet earlier in the day.
Chicago had two mass shootings of its own over the weekend in Lawndale, leaving one dead and 14 wounded in two separate attacks in a span of less than three hours in the Lawndale neighborhood on the West Side. Overall, more than 50 people were shot across the city, seven of them fatally.
Lightfoot said it’s unfortunate that there seems to be a mass shooting virtually every weekend in Chicago.
“As a city, we have to stand up and do a hell of a lot more than we’ve done in a very long time,” she said.
Noting she’d visited the West Side just a day before the two mass shootings this weekend, the mayor lamented that there are parts of the West Side where open drug trades have completely taken over some public spaces; leaving children to witness drug dealing in their neighborhoods, and seniors afraid to leave their homes.
“The West Side is rich in texture and culture, but there are areas of the West Side – and that’s the places where I spent a lot of my time on Saturday – that are just desperate,” she said. “It’s shameful, and I can’t say that the things that I saw on Saturday are things that I even have the capacity to process yet. I left this area on Saturday night feeling devastated and heartbroken, but also determined to make a difference in the lives of the people here on the West Side.”
Lightfoot said addressing the problem is not a policing issue alone, noting hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent by law enforcement agencies at the local, state, and federal level, and “we have barely moved the needle.”