Chicago mayor-elect Brandon Johnson and outgoing mayor Lori Lightfoot are competing to deliver the least harsh comments on last weekend’s "teen takeover" that left property damaged, bystanders beaten, and two people shot.
"Demonizing children is wrong," Johnson said on Wednesday. "They're young. Sometimes they make silly decisions. They do! And so we have to make sure that we are investing, to make sure that young people know that they're supported."
An event advertised online as a "teen takeover" brought hundreds of teenagers to downtown Chicago on Saturday night. Fifteen people were arrested and most charged with reckless conduct. A 16- and 17-year-old were shot and are in "fair condition," and a woman said her husband was beaten by teenagers who smashed windows and jumped on the car. Public transit halted routes into the area and police told news crews to leave.
Johnson's comments follow Lightfoot’s dismissal of a reporter’s question Monday about the weekend’s "mayhem." She called the characterization "wrong."
"The vast majority of young people who came downtown came because of the great weather and an opportunity to enjoy the city," Lightfoot, who was the first Chicago mayor incumbent to not win reelection in decades, said. "There are a few who came with different intentions and they have and they will be dealt with."
Johnson and Lightfoot's responses to the incident underscore that though voters ousted Lightfoot over concerns with rampant crime, they have replaced her with another soft-on-crime Democrat. Johnson, a "Defund the Police" supporter, was the only candidate in the recent election to not call for filling Chicago’s 1,600 police vacancies. He said in 2019 that the city should "go to neighborhoods and provide supports to community, not just with law enforcement."
Johnson’s initial response to "teen takeover" was to blame the city’s lack of "safe" spaces for teenagers.
"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."
Under Lightfoot’s watch, the Windy City's homicide rate has skyrocketed nearly 40 percent since 2019, watchdog Wirepoints reported. The city's district attorney, George Soros-backed prosecutor Kim Foxx, 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 despite soaring crimes committed.