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Austin, Garfield Park, North Lawndale

After Mass Shootings Across Country — Including 2 In Lawndale — Lightfoot Calls For Mental Health Help

The city has spent "hundreds of millions of dollars on policing on the West Side" with barely any improvements in public safety over the last 30 years, Lightfoot said.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot
File photo

NORTH LAWNDALE — Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she was “devastated and heartbroken” after a weekend of mass shootings across the country, including two in North Lawndale.

While the mass shootings in El Paso, Tex., and Dayton, Ohio, that killed 31 people over the weekend made national and international headlines, the West Side grappled with its own shootings as 17 people were shot in just two hours in three shootings in Lawndale. Two of the shootings — one where seven people were injured, another where one man was killed and seven injured — qualified as mass shootings.

The first early Sunday shooting happened at a playground in Douglas Park in the 2900 block of West Roosevelt Road, where seven people were shot by an unidentified person who fired into a crowd from a black Camaro, police said.

A second mass shooting happened shortly after in the 4200 block of West 18th Street, where seven were injured and one man, 33-year-old Demetrius Flowers, was shot to death.

His family said he was with his friends when random shots rang out.

“Demetrius was a humble man, a hard working man, and especially a family man,” according to a GoFundMe page set up by his family to raise money for his funeral.

“He had just started a new job and he was on his way UP! We all held so much love for him and miss him greatly already. Unfortunately, as he shared some quality time with a group of friends that evening after work, random shots rang out and Demetrius was fatally shot. At his time of need, family and friends came together at Mt. Sina hospital with our heads in our hands, as our hearts sank upon hearing Demetrius accepted his wings.”

Credit: GoFundMe
Demetrius Flowers

In another shooting just a few blocks from the park early Sunday, two women were shot when they were standing in the 1200 block of South Troy Street and someone shot at them, police said.

The violence left the trauma center at nearby Mount Sinai Hospital, 1500 S. Fairfield Ave., overwhelmed. The hospital began routing would-be patients to other hospitals in the city because the trauma center at Mount Sinai was at capacity, the Sun-Times reported.

Speaking at the Lawndale Christian Health Center Monday morning, Lightfoot addressed the trauma caused by the recent attacks in Ohio and Texas, as well as her plans to curb gun violence in the city.

“What we are working on is putting together an infrastructure that’s neighborhood-based in response to the entire spectrum of mental illness and trauma,” Lightfoot said.

Six of the city’s mental health clinics were closed in 2012 by former Mayor Rahm Emanuel in an effort to cut costs. The move was unanimously approved by City Council, according to the Tribune.

After declaring a need for more mental health and trauma resources in the city, Lightfoot said her administration’s public safety strategies will invest in violence prevention measures beyond just policing.

Shaming previous mayoral administrations, Lightfoot said the city has spent “hundreds of millions of dollars on policing on the West Side” with barely any improvements in public safety in the last 30 years.

The mayor also implored President Donald Trump to “set a better clear moral tone.”

“Because what he’s been doing is blowing every racist, xenophobic dog whistle,” Lightfoot said.

Some critics say Trump’s statements have led to racist, xenophobic and white supremacist attacks. The gunman responsible for the attack in El Paso posted an anti-immigrant manifesto online moments before the attack.

In a televised address Monday, Trump condemned “racism, bigotry and white supremacy” after the Texas and Ohio mass shootings.

“Mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun,” he said.

Pascal Sabino is a Report for America corps member covering Austin, North Lawndale and Garfield Park for Block Club Chicago.

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