By Megan Hickey and Yolanda Perdomo
CHICAGO (CBS) — After violent crimes and dozens of shootings taking center stage over the last two weekends, Chicago’s mayor said more police will be out during the holiday weekend, but the public has to do its part to curb crime.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot said while people will be out during the very hot holiday weekend, she also urged everyone to adhere to COVID-19 rules and warned businesses not following recommended guidelines will be shut down.
Lightfoot said despite this being a celebration for many, she said it can give people pause, as evident of current protests after the death of George Floyd.
“(A) Declaration of Independence that was written by and for a certain class of people that didn’t include people like me, didn’t include Blacks, didn’t include women didn’t include our indigenous populations,” Lightfoot said. “We have a long way to go to fully embrace and embody the spirit of what makes the United States different.”
The mayor discussed the violence of the last two weekend that claimed the lives of several children, including a 20-month-old child. She pleaded with the people engaged in violent behavior to think twice.
“I want to spread your message to the young men, mostly men who are out there with illegal firearms. I pray that you will find your humanity that you will think about the sanctity of life. 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, a one-year-old, a three-year-old, a 13-year-old, a 10 year-old,” Lightfoot said.
Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown added that more officers will be on patrol this weekend.
“We need everyone’s help to make our strategy work. We can’t do it alone. No one knows their blocks by the folks that live there. To amplify these efforts for CPD, we will have an additional 1,200 officers. Each day, beginning today. To combat gun violence, we’ll be conducting strategic police missions to recover illegal guns,” Brown said.
“We need those young men who are driving this violence to have a sense of compassion and empathy and value the sanctity of life and think about those things before they pick up a gun and just shoot into a crowd. These children that have been killed, they weren’t targeted. They were with somebody who may have been targeted or the instance of the 10-year-old, she was in her house, living her life, not out on the street.” the mayor said.
Also in the mix is the plan to contain and confiscate fireworks. Many illegal fireworks have been going off weeks before the holiday.
“With firework shows being cancelled this year to prevent large gatherings, we want to remind all residents that fireworks are not toys. They remain illegal in Chicago,” said Fire Commissioner Richard Ford II. “Without fireworks and parades, this Fourth of July will be like none other, but our firefighters and paramedics are on-deck this holiday so that our residents can celebrate safely.”
The mayor said several public spaces will be open for people to use, but only if they’re willing to abide by COVID-19 guidelines.
“Millennium Park, Maggie Daley Park, and most of our neighborhood parks will be open during the Fourth of July weekend. The Lakefront Trail, the Riverwalk and the 606 will continue to open, so long as visitors keep it moving. That means, running, biking, but moving. That doesn’t mean a standing and congregating,” Lightfoot said.
Lightfoot reiterated that the beaches will stay closed and asked that no one go into Lake Michigan.
“This year, we have no lifeguards on the beaches because the beaches are closed. Please don’t be foolish. The lake is dangerous. It always is. It is deep. It has rip tides and currents underneath the water that you may not see when it looks calm and placid on top. Do not go into the lake. We don’t want you to be another drowning casualty in our city.”
As people make their way outdoors and into drinking and dining establishments, Lightfoot also had a warning for business owners who don’t adhere to COVID-19 safety guidelines and refuse to enforce rules with their customers.
“Members of the public, you have a responsibility to wear a face covering when you’re outside, no question about it,” Lightfoot said.
“Business owners, your financial to fate depends upon you enforcing the guidelines that we drafted for you and with you. We’re going to be out and we’re going to be active and we’re going to be looking at if we see businesses that are flouting the rules that are putting your profit over the public health and safety of your workers or members of the public, we’re not going to hesitate to shut you down. If you are shut down, you’re not coming back anytime soon,” said the mayor.