Chicago’s incoming mayor, Brandon Johnson, condemned the weekend’s unruly “Teen Takeover” of the Loop, during which hundreds of teenagers descended on the city’s central business district. At least two male teenagers, ages 16 and 17, were shot in the mob on Saturday night as hundreds of their peers trashed cars, obstructed traffic, and fought in the streets.
According to Fox 32 Chicago, both victims were taken to the hospital and are currently in fair condition.
“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. However, it is not constructive to demonize youth who have otherwise been starved of opportunities in their own communities,” Johnson, a progressive who defeated moderate Democrat Paul Vallas earlier this month, said in a statement on Sunday.
“Our city must work together to create spaces for youth to gather safely and responsibly, under adult guidance and supervision, to ensure that every part of our city remains welcome for both residents and visitors.”
Nine adults and six minors were arrested by Chicago police in connection with the social media-promoted takeover. Charges of unauthorized use of a weapon were brought against a 16-year-old male, and charges of possession of a stolen car were brought against two other suspects.
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The majority of the other arrests involved cases of hazardous behavior. Seven other candidates, including incumbent Mayor Lori Lightfoot, were eliminated before the runoff between Johnson and Vallas, which resulted in Lightfoot being the first Chicago mayor to lose re-election in 40 years.
Lightfoot criticized the weekend’s “reckless, disrespectful, and unlawful behavior” and called on parents to take action.
“As I have said before, we as a city cannot and will not allow any of our public spaces to become a platform for criminal conduct,” Lightfoot said in a statement.
“Most importantly, parents and guardians must know where their children are and be responsible for their actions. Instilling the important values of respect for people and property must begin at home.“
Homicides in Chicago reached a 25-year high in 2021, despite police efforts to reduce crime. During the mayoral contest, Johnson was attacked by the Democratic Party’s moderates for his history of advocating for redistributing police funding to other social services.
He has subsequently recanted, saying he will not cut the police budget and instead insisting that the city’s crime problems cannot be addressed by simply adding more police officers.
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