American Independence Day 2014: Mayhem in Chicago sees police chief admit ‘we lost it’ after 82 shootings and 14 deaths on deadly 4 July bank holiday
Failed policing policies aimed at tackling gun violence in the Windy City harms Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s re-election bid
All notion of Chicago finally prevailing in the war against gun violence, thanks to new policing policies put in place by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, have been shattered as officials struggled to make sense of a simmering 4 July weekend that saw 82 different shooting incidents, including 14 deaths.
While the mayhem of the bank holiday – the final tally of those injured and killed spans the period from late last Thursday to Monday – was concentrated, as usual, in poorer southern and western districts far from the glittering downtown, it has nonetheless shaken the Windy City as a whole. It also comes as Mr Emanuel prepares to run for re-election next year amid already drooping poll ratings.
Elected in part because of his tough-guy, no-nonsense image, Mr Emanuel, one-time White House chief-of-staff to Barack Obama, apparently has not intimidated the city’s gang leaders or the politicians in the state capital, who continue to balk at passing any kind of effective gun control legislation to aid him.
Among those killed were two teenage boys shot by police officers. In a statement, the Mayor called the violence “simply unacceptable” wherever it occurred in the city. “All of us need to take a stand,” he said, later attending a vigil for the victims at a boys’ community centre in the Roseland neighbourhood of the city.
July is often the worst month for shootings in Chicago, as in many other US cities, and police typically brace for the big Independence Day weekend when temperatures – and beer consumption – are high. The Chicago police chief Gary McCarthy said it was on Sunday, however, that “we lost it”. He noted fewer police were on the street that day and many may have been exhausted.
Georgia Utendahl (left) and Shanice Smith (right) grieve after learning that a relative was shot by police on Chicago’s South Side during the bloody 4 July weekend (AP)
There had been some perception of progress with the numbers of murders in Chicago reaching 415 last year, compared with 507 in 2012, the year after Mr Emanuel’s election. However, there have been claims in the Chicago media of manipulation of data to make it look better than it is, a charge the city has denied.
In any event, this latest violence bodes ill for Mr Emanuel. A poll released in May showed only 29 per cent of city dwellers supporting his re-election. Most ominously, he appeared to have the backing of only 8 per cent of the African-American population and a quiet effort has been launched to persuade the president of Cook County Board, Toni Preckwinkle, to run against him. Awkwardly, Ms Preckwinkle, who is black, has been described as a past political mentor to Mr Obama.
Mr Emanuel and Mr McCarthy have railed at lax gun laws, particularly at state level, that allow firearms to flow almost unimpeded into the metropolis from suppliers, both legal and nefarious, in Illinois and neighbouring Indiana.
“A lot of people will say, where were the police? What were the police doing? That’s a fair question, but not the only question,” Mr Emanuel said in Roseland. “Where are the parents? Where is the community? Where are the gun laws? Where are the national leaders, so we don’t have the guns of Cook County, Indiana and Illinois flowing into the city?”
- 1 Is this bridge haunted by the ghost of nu rave?
- 2 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 3 The day I starred in Only Fools and Horses
- 4 Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts the calories
Is this bridge haunted by the ghost of nu rave?
Saudi Arabia says it won't rule out building nuclear weapons
Germanwings plane crash: Andreas Lubitz 'had eyesight problems' and woke from nightmares 'screaming we’re going down'
The battle for the Middle East's future begins in Yemen as Saudi Arabia jumps into the abyss
Jeremy Clarkson 'could be given minder' ahead of a potential Top Gear return
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans
Revealed: Putin's army of pro-Kremlin bloggers
The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...
£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...
£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...