Mayor Rahm Emanuel hosts Nobel Peace Laureates this week at a very non-peaceful time in Chicago.
On Friday night, two men were shot dead and three others were injured in shootings on the city's South and West sides. A University of Chicago student was knocked unconscious last week during a mugging near the school, and earlier this month a teen girl was raped on her way to school, the latest in a series of sexual assaults.
Still, Chicago was picked as the first North American city to host the 12th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates, and peace will be celebrated Monday through Wednesday.
Former President Bill Clinton, former Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev, and actor and activist Sean Penn are among guests at the meeting and awards ceremony. On Monday morning, Emanuel, Gorbachev and Penn spoke with students about peace to kick off the summit.
"The decision to host this event in Chicago reflects the profile of our city as an international leader in civic dialogue and community involvement," Emanuel said in a statement. "While the summit is a global event, it will have a local impact and leave a lasting legacy on our city.”
Earlier this month, the mayor went on the defensive about a surge of recent homicides. Between the start of 2012 and April 1, Chicago Police recorded 120 homicides, a 60 percent spike over the 75 murders during the same period in 2010 and 2011.
"Nobody can be comfortable or sanguine about it and nobody should. If you're a resident of the city, and a child is shot in Little Village, that's a child in the city of Chicago," Emanuel said. "It's not in another part of the city."
Emanuel conceded that gang violence continues to be an issue.
Last week Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy announced 18 men were arrested in two separate investigations targeting gang-controlled drug markets. Two weeks ago, 10 suspected Latin King gang members were arrested in Humboldt Park near a school. The bust turned up drugs and guns, as well as six pit bulls.
The day before that announcement, a 7-year-old boy and an 18-year old man were wounded in a Thursday evening shooting in the Chicago Lawn neighborhood on the South Side.