Memorial Day Weekend Violence ‘Unacceptable,’ Strategy a ‘Fail’


With 49 shot and 10 killed over Memorial Day weekend, Mayor Lori Lightfoot is ripping her new police superintendent’s strategies.  

“I know that there was a lot of energy and coordination among a variety of groups,” Lightfoot said at a press conference Tuesday. “What I said to the superintendent this morning is, ‘This was a fail and whatever the strategy is, it didn’t work.’”

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“We have to do better,” Lightfoot added. “We cannot have weekends in summer turn into a blood bath. And this weekend’s violence was out of control. And clearly, as I said before, whatever the strategy was, it didn’t work.”

Eddie Bocanegra, senior director of Heartland Alliance's READI Chicago, agrees with Lightfoot.

“I think she’s right. I think she is dead on,” said Eddie Bocanegra, who oversees a program that uses evidence-based and trauma-informed techniques to reduce gun violence in the city. A recent University of Chicago Crime Lab study of READI Chicago’s work found a 24% reduction in violence. 

“I think what happened this weekend it’s important for us to reflect, and to see what worked, what didn’t work, and to think about how else would we deploy these resources,” said Bocanegra.

Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown, who also held a post-mortem press conference Tuesday, called it an “unacceptable level of violence” over the Memorial Day weekend and said that it was “nothing short of alarming.”

At his swearing in ceremony on April 15, Brown made a “moon shot goal” of getting homicides to under 300 per year.

“I think it’s really important for our new superintendent to be aspirational,” said Bocanegra. “I think it’s really critical to have a really strong strategic plan behind it and the whole that in a strategy you’re also incorporating not only law enforcement, but you’re also incorporating the community. You’re incorporating other institutions along the way."

“We see a spike in violence this weekend and right away we want to saturate the community with law enforcement,” said Bocanegra. “But ultimately we were thinking about how do we play the long game? How do we avoid not only a Memorial Day weekend that we just had this past week, but how do we think about next weekend and the next holiday weekend as well?”


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