Between Friday afternoon and early Monday morning, the Chicago Police Department reported a staggering 75 people were shot across the city, predominantly in the South and West Sides, with 12 recorded fatalities. More than half of the victims were attacked on Sunday morning, the final day of Lollapalooza, with 41 people hit with bullets in a mere seven hours. It was one of the most violent weekends of the year for the city, which has already topped 300 homicides and 1,700 gunshot victims overall — numbers that are still somehow lower than this time in 2016.
In a press conference held on Monday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, along with Chicago Police Department superintendent Eddie Johnson, blamed the violence largely on gangs involved in running drugs and illegal firearms, saying, “There are too many guns on the street, too many people with criminal records on the street, and there is a shortage of values about what is acceptable.”
“We have a heavy heart,” said Emanuel, who is seeking reelection in 2019. “Our souls are burdened. What happened this weekend did not happen in every neighborhood of Chicago but it is unacceptable to happen in any neighborhood of Chicago. We are a better city.”
However, according to Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City and current legal adviser to President Donald Trump, the only way to “make Chicago safe again” is for voters to kick Emanuel to the curb in November.
“Chicago murders are direct result of one party Democratic rule for decades,” Giuliani tweeted.
Giuliani supports Emanuel’s opponent, Garry McCarthy, a self-described “Conservative Democrat” who was actually hired by Emanuel to lead the Chicago Police Department in 2011. Before he joined CPD, McCarthy served in a command position in the NYPD while Giuliani was in office.
“He was one of the architects of CompStat,” Giuliani tweeted about McCarthy’s leadership at the NYPD, where the statistics-based predictive policing tool was first tested before it was implemented in police departments across the country, including Chicago. “Slashed homicides over 70 percent. Tens of thousands of lives saved.”
However, as the Washington Post points out, Giuliani is taking a little more credit than he should for New Yorks’ drop in crime during his tenure, which began years before he took office. There’s also the fact that Giuliani famously favored the “broken windows” approach to policing, which has considerable downsides. Under the “broken windows” theory, visible signs of “disorder and incivility” encourage more serious crimes within a community; therefore, police enforcement of low-level offenses like vandalism and public intoxication — “drunks … panhandlers and squeegee men,” as Giuliani put it during his campaign for Mayor – create an atmosphere of lawful obedience that prevents more serious crimes from occurring.
Implemented by the NYPD in 1995, CompStat’s crime-tracking data and predictive technology gave “broken windows” policing a statistical basis for targeting specific areas with specific enforcement strategies for specific types of crimes. This approach may have contributed to cleaner streets in Times Square and made pockets of New York City more hospitable to tourists, but it also led to the mass incarceration of primarily poor people of color, which had and continues to have a ripple effect lasting for generations.
Giuliani may be a champion of CompStat-fueled “broken windows” policing, but it’s hardly a tactic favored only by Republicans. Democrat Martin O’Malley, as Mayor of Baltimore, backed the “broken windows” theory and championed the Baltimore Police Department’s implementation of CompStat (referred to there as CitiStat) in 2000 as a tool for enforcing so-called “quality of life” crimes. While homicides were lower under O’Malley than they have been in recent years under subsequent Democratic mayors, that just serves to underscore the temporary benefits of such policing strategies. And when those efforts aren’t accompanied by an investment in programs that actually address the root causes of crime – like poverty, under-resourced schools, and environmental health crises like lead poisoning – they are guaranteed to do more harm than good for the communities in which they are enforced.
McCarthy, Emanuel’s opponent, was ousted as top Chicago cop following the fatal police shooting of Laquan McDonald in 2015, but in the three years since, further examples of internal departmental corruption, misconduct and criminal activity have been exposed. Meanwhile, Rahm Emanuel has been there all along, which is just one reason why he is also not too popular with progressives, who, while they have different reasons than Giuliani, would like to see him ousted when voters hit the polls next February. In addition to McCarthy, Emanuel’s bid for a third term as Chicago’s Mayor is being challenged by numerous candidates from the left, like 22-year-old activist Ja’Mal Green and Lori Lightfoot, the former chair of the Police Accountability Task Force.
The victims from this weekend’s spate of violence ranged in age from 11 to 62, many of them innocent bystanders caught in the wrong place — outside at neighborhood block parties, on front stoops and in courtyards, just trying to enjoy the last of the summer months — at the wrong time. With just six months to go until the next mayoral election, Chicagoans are sure to hear all sorts of promises about how next summer could be different — come January, their votes will decide who they expect can actually deliver.