(Sun Times Wire) Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Thursday she’s “flooding the zone” — with 1,200 additional police officers, dozens of religious leaders and more than 100 youth programs — to prevent Memorial Day weekend from turning violent.
“I want our kids to be safe in every community. That’s what success looks like. I know that we’ve got a way to go on that journey. But, I want to make sure we start the building blocks aggressively this weekend,” Lightfoot said.
“We’re flooding the zone. We know the areas in the city where we believe there are challenges. And we’re gonna make sure that we are physically present. That we are engaging with people in those neighborhoods. And that we’re bringing resources into those areas in particular where we have concerns about any kind of conflict.”
Every year, Chicago mayors make similar promises, only to have their best efforts dissolve into a bloodbath over the holiday weekend that marks the unofficial start of summer.
This year, a new mayor has made Memorial Day weekend safety and preventing the traditional summer surge of violence her top priority. That provides added motivation for city department heads and agency chiefs who want to keep their jobs.
On Thursday, they gathered two- and three-deep behind Lightfoot at the Chicago Park District’s newest fieldhouse in Bronzeville to announce the coordinated plan they hope will keep the city safe this weekend:
• 1,200 Chicago Police officers working overtime and on adjusted schedules.
• 50 officers riding CTA buses and trains.
• Activating the city’s emergency operations center to coordinate: Saturday’s Memorial Day parade; Sunday morning’s Bike the Drive; the Chicago House Music Festival; and the Cubs’ weekend series against the Cincinnati Reds at Wrigley Field.
• More than 100 youth programs, activities and community events to provide constructive alternatives concentrated in neighborhoods plagued by gang violence.
• A “city service blitz” by three departments — Streets and Sanitation, Transportation and Water Management — to bring hand-cleaning, graffiti removal, pothole patching, street light replacement, catch-basin cleaning and more to neighborhoods deemed “most in need.”
• What Lightfoot calls a “critically important role” for “violence interrupters,” charged with “making sure that we resolve conflicts without violence and, when something happens, that they’re on top of it, to eliminate any possibilities for retaliation.”
• Religious leaders taking to the streets, focused on 60 “hot spots,” to keep the peace.
Article Org: Chicago.suntimes.com