Chicago's Democratic mayor-elect Brandon Johnson excused the actions of hundreds of juveniles who smashed windows, beat bystanders, and fired weapons Saturday night, saying the city needs "spaces for youth to gather safely" and that the perpetrators have been "starved for opportunity."
"In no way do I condone the destructive activity we saw in the Loop and lakefront this weekend. It is unacceptable and has no place in our city," Johnson said Sunday. "However, it is not constructive to demonize youth who have otherwise been starved of opportunities in their own communities."
Nine adults and six teens were arrested after the events on Saturday, which resulted in two people shot and others beaten.
The event, which was deemed so unsafe by the city that media outlets were told to leave, was advertised on social media for teenagers. A 16- and 17-year old were shot and are in "fair condition." One woman said her husband was beaten by teenagers who jumped on their car and smashed windows.
The response is further evidence of Johnson’s soft-on-crime policies. A supporter of the "Defund the Police" movement, Johnson was the only candidate who opposed filling the 1,600 vacancies in the Chicago Police Department. He said in 2019 that the city should "go to neighborhoods and provide supports to community, not just with law enforcement."
Chicago's homicide rate has skyrocketed nearly 40 percent since current mayor Lori Lightfoot (D.) took office in 2019, watchdog Wirepoints reported. A George Soros-backed prosecutor is also refusing to bring charges against violent criminals, resulting in a 27 percent decrease in convictions and a 54 percent jump in dismissed cases.
Walmart last week announced the closure of four Chicago stores, affecting hundreds of workers and tens of thousands of residents who already face difficulty in obtaining food. The company said revenue losses "nearly doubled in just the last five years" and that collectively the city’s Walmarts have not been profitable in the last 17 years.
Yet the crime-ridden city will be the site of next year’s Democratic National Convention, where President Joe Biden is expected to take the nomination and outline his agenda for the country. Democrats did not mention the city’s violence and unruliness in their announcement of the choice, instead focusing on unions and pro-abortion policies.
Illinois ranks second in the nation for most residents leaving, with one resident leaving the state every 3 minutes and 43 seconds.