CHINATOWN — As Police Supt. David Brown blamed illegal guns, bond reform and closed courts for a violent Independence Day weekend, a South Side alderman met with Chinatown residents Monday to call for more community-based violence prevention measures.
Chicago saw more than 90 people wounded in shootings over the long holiday weekend. Among them were a 27-year-old woman and 41-year-old man who were shot Monday morning in Chinatown.
Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th) held a Tuesday morning news conference in response to the violence.
“Families, children, young people and parents — time after time — have talked about a need for change,” Sigcho-Lopez said. “We cannot continue to normalize this level of violence.”
The shooting happened about 9:38 a.m. Monday in the 300 block of West 23rd Street. The victims were standing on the sidewalk when someone in a car drove up and fired shots, hitting the woman in her legs and the man multiple times throughout his body, police said.
The man took himself to Mercy Hospital and was transferred to Stroger Hospital, where he was in serious condition, police said. The woman was taken to Stroger Hospital and was also seriously wounded. No one was in custody and an investigation was ongoing.
Sigcho-Lopez was joined by activists and leaders from neighborhood groups, including Grace Chan-McKibben from the Coalition for a Better Chinese-American Community and Hong Liu from Midwest Asian Health Association.
All called for an approach to violence prevention that focuses more on providing resources and investing directly in the community, in addition to improving community relationships with police.
“Residents need to feel comfortable going to the police. Part of that is making sure that there are officers who speak Mandarin and Cantonese, but also investing in more long-term solutions like housing, education and workforce development,” Chan-McKibben said.
Liu said there also needs to be more funding for mental health care. Funding from the city could support initiatives such as making psychiatrists free or accessible to at-risk community members, she said.
“Mental health is a big part of what drives violence,” she said.
At a separate news conference Tuesday morning, Brown repeated controversial claims he and Mayor Lori Lightfoot have made blaming an uptick in violence on the courts not prosecuting people and judges releasing violent offenders.
Brown said police cleared 10 murders, arrested about 60 young people and took in more than 200 illegal guns during the long holiday weekend. He said violence can be traced back to a lack of action from the courts — and said the police have advocated for a whole-city approach to reducing crime.
Sigcho-Lopez dismissed those claims.
“The research is very clear: We have been provided with ample evidence from Loyola that there is an extremely low correlation between violent crime and releases,” Sigcho-Lopez said, citing a recent report released by Loyola University, which found just 3 percent of defendants let out on bond committed another offense during their pre-trial period.
“The strategy by the Police Department — which has focused on a wide net of issues, primarily focusing on seizing guns — has failed. They’re not focusing on the segment of the population that is at high risk,” the alderman said.
Sigcho-Lopez and community members urged the Police Department and the Mayor’s Office to pivot on a more “holistic” strategy — and quickly.
“We can’t wait till the end of the summer to invest in violent prevention,” Sigcho-Lopez said. “We need to prevent violence so we’re not constantly reacting to this issue.”
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