News is breaking out on all sorts of fronts this week, be it the GOP gubernatorial candidates finally debating as a group—sort of—or an at least preliminary vote on a new city ward map, or action in D.C. on aid to Ukraine.
But, sadly, another horrific, damaging weekend of street violence takes the lead, and is likely to reverberate for a while.
Though there were shootings all over town as the weather heated up, the most damaging—at least to Chicago’s hopes to getting tourists and their money to return to the city—came just steps away from The Bean at the heart of Millennium Park. Police could only react Saturday night as a 16-year-old, part of what some dubbed a flash mob, was shot to death just steps away from the sculpture, leading to scenes of young people running down nearby streets, jumping up and down on a police car, and dozens of arrests.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot was out of town, on a speaking and fund-raising swing through Texas. She put out a statement saying that while “the overwhelming majority” of those in the park were just out to have a good time, the city cannot tolerate “chaos” and immediately will require all minors in Millennium Park to be accompanied by “a responsible adult” after 6 p.m. from Thursdays through Sundays.
“This new policy will be strictly enforced, and any violations will be dealt with swiftly,” Lightfoot said.
The statement showed no sign of satisfying anyone.
“The city has a lot of parks, but only one with the most tourists bans youth after dark,” one observer wrote while retweeting Good Kids Mad City, an activist group on the political left. The ACLU issued a similar statement.
Criticism was equally sharp on the political right.
“Murder of 16-year-old downtown is tragic,” tweeted likely mayoral hopeful Paul Vallas. “But what about” another 16-year-old shot on the West Side, and two 13-year-olds shot on the South Side, he asked. “Is just mentioning downtown murder spin control as you are still in Texas raising $$ for re-election? We need real leadership.”
Said state Rep. Kam Buckner, who announced his candidacy for mayor last week: “This has been another tragic weekend throught our city with at least 30 children and young adults being shot and give being killed. Imposing a Millennium Park-specific curfew will not stop this pandemic of violence. It will simply push it from one location to another.”
He added in a statement, “This band-aid reaction is evidence that, yet again, as we head into summer there is no plan to prevent violence.”
Police made a couple of arrests in the wake of the incident. Only a week ago, another large group of young people held another boisterous gathering just west of the North Avenue Beach. No one was hurt in that incident.
The obvious question: If huge crowds can gather, presumably via social media, why can’t police monitor that communication and be prepared to act proactively, rather than after the fact?
Remap moves come to a head: Also at City Hall, aldermen are scheduled to meet this morning to vote the proposed remap deal I wrote about in my column in this week’s Crain’s. The vote could be delayed a couple of days via a parliamentary procedure known as defer and publish, but final passage appears certain.
Governor’s race picks up steam: In Springfield, the TV ad war between Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin and state Sen. Darren Bailey will continue to intensify, with Irvin accusing Bailey of welcoming the Democratic Governors Association’s interference in the race, and Bailey preparing to hit back with his own ads, courtesy of another $2.5 million cash infusion over the weekend from conservative businessman Dick Uihlein. Also, expect to hear more about that WTTW story on how Irvin was quite critical of former President Donald Trump in tweets. Meanwhile, Democratic incumbent J.B. Pritzker can take the high road with ads among other things about his mother’s struggles with alcoholism.
Amidst that, two TV debates are set for the week, but not all of the contenders—which also includes businessmen Gary Rabine and Jesse Sullivan, and former state Sen. Paul Schimpf—have agreed to attend either of them. But the Tribune and Daily Herald editorial boards have endorsements set for this week, and they like to have everyone in the room at the same time.