Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has come under fire after it was revealed she allowed two of her top aides to take time off just before the the city was gripped by violence over the Fourth of July weekend which saw more than 100 people shot and at least 17 killed.
Lightfoot’s chief of staff Sybil Madison was out of the office two days before the holiday weekend while the deputy mayor for public safety, John O’Malley, was also out for most of the week beforehand, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Their absences came despite Lightfoot’s promise to have ‘all hands on deck’ to address a sudden surge in shootings across the city prior to July 4.
Police officers were even made to work 12-hour shifts during that weekend to increase their street presence.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot had two of her top aides on leave during the deadliest weekend for shootings in the city all year
When Lightfoot took office in May 2019, she introduced a ban on time off during the summer within the police department fearing that it set a ‘bad example’ for officers.
Her decision to allow to of her top aides to take vacation over the holiday weekend was met with swift criticism from several local officials, including South Side Alderman Anthony Beale.
Beale said that Lightfoot showed ‘poor leadership’ in approving the leave for the aides ‘when we need them the most’.
Southwest Side Alderman Raymond Lopez said the decision shows that the city’s leadership is ‘disconnected’.
‘That she allowed her staff to go on vacation … before what is traditionally the most dangerous weekend in the city of Chicago – is outrageous,’ Alderman Ray Lopez, told Fox 32.
‘It shows there’s a complete lack of commitment toward addressing the violence.’
In a separate interview with the Tribune, Lopez said: ‘We’ve heard about the “whole of government” approach (to dealing with violence) for weeks now.
‘But I guess that doesn’t apply to the people responsible for actually creating the policies.’
Fellow Alderman Anthony Napolitano called the city a ‘war zone’ following the holiday weekend and ripped Lightfoot as responsible.
Lightfoot’s office responded to the backlash in a statement on Friday, insisting that all members of the mayor’s team were ‘fully engaged’ over the weekend.
‘Working in the mayor’s office is a 24/7, 365 job, and members of the mayor’s senior staff are constantly connected,’ the statement read.
‘Those responsible for on-the-ground operations continued to execute over the holiday weekend, and the Chief of Staff and Deputy Chief of Staff were fully engaged every day.’
Chicago Police work on a crime scene in a residential neighborhood earlier this week
Law enforcement officers investigate a crime scene in Chicago last week. Two ATF agents and one Chicago Police officer were shot as they worked undercover
Statistics from the police department showed that at least 108 people were shot, 17 fatally, between July 2nd and July 4th.
Eleven children, some as young as five and six, were wounded in what was the most violent weekend of the year. Two cops were among the city’s shooting victims.
Chicago’s latest crime statistics show the city of 2.7 million people saw 78 murders in June.
That is a 20 per cent drop in the 98 murders it witnesses for June 2020. More than 300 people have been murdered in the Windy City this year, although as of July 1, there have been six fewer murders this year than there were for the same period of 2020.
Police Superintendent David Brown, had stated ahead of the holiday that a City Council emergency meeting called on July 2 would distract from efforts to reduce street crime during what was already believed to be the most violent weekend of the year, Fox 32 reported.
Brown also railed against the ‘out of control’ court system which he claimed allowed people accused of violent crimes to be released back onto the streets.
‘There are too many violent offenders and too little consequence in our courts. There are too many illegal guns in our city and too little consequences in the courts. The courts have created an unsafe environment for large crowd gatherings because you’ve released people charged with murder back into these same communities where they committed this heinous crime,’ Brown said.
Chicago Police Department Superintendent David Brown has railed against the ‘out of control’ court system which he claimed allowed people accused of violent crimes to be released back onto the streets
Fourth of July weekend in Chicago left at least 100 people shot and 18 killed. (File photo from last week)
Police investigate a crime scene where three people were shot in the Bridgeport neighborhood of Chicago last month
Lightfoot – who last week claimed that 99 percent of criticism of her is based on her gender or race – has blamed joblessness, poverty and out-of-state gun smuggling for the ongoing violence spiral gripping the city she runs.
‘We have the strongest and the strictest gun laws in the state, if not the country,’ he said, adding neighboring towns have ‘nowhere near the amount of crime we do.
‘Look at my predecessors. Did people say that Rich Daly held tea sessions with people that he didn’t disagree on? Ron Emmanuel was a polite guy who was a uniter? No. Woman and people of color are always held to a different standard. I understand that. I’ve known that my whole life.
‘And the Tribune or whoever could write what they want. What I’m doing is fighting for the residents of this city. I’m an advocate. I’m going to continue fighting. Obviously we need to be focused on uniting people as much as we can, but I was elected and ran on disrupting the status quo. And when you disrupt the status quo, you are gonna make people uncomfortable. You’re are gonna have people criticizing you.’