Chicago police are asking officers to work overtime during Memorial Day weekend in an effort to prevent city violence during the long holiday weekend that has previously been marred by bloodshed.
"Chicago Police are ramping up plans for Memorial Day to ensure everyone has a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend,” the department said in a statement. “People can expect to see additional officers on foot and bikes patrolling parks and neighborhoods as well as a stepped up presence in neighborhoods.”
Last year, 12 people were killed and another 56 shot and city activists are bracing for the worst this year with shootings already up more than 50 percent from 2015.
“This is a state of emergency,” said Father Michael Pfleger with St. Sabina Church.
On Wednesday, a young woman was grazed by a bullet in a mass shootout on the city’s West Side. Roughly 60 rounds were fired in the single act of violence just days before the holiday.
“The Memorial Day weekend, we should be in a situation where everyone is with their families honoring life and remembering some of the fallen people out here,” said community activist Tio Hardiman. “We shouldn't be expecting more bloodshed.”
Police said they have asked rank and file officers to come to work on their days off. According to a CPD spokesperson, that’s a common practice for big events and holidays.
Spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said several thousand officers will take to city streets over the weekend. A police spokesperson said officers’ days off could be canceled if police don’t get enough volunteers to work, but officials don’t expect that to happen.
Community leaders are taking to violent neighborhoods asking for peace over the weekend.
Hardiman and several volunteers plan to talk to residents at the corner of Lockwood and Adams Thursday.
"This area has turned into a war zone and the young brothers need help in the area of resolving conflicts on the front end,” Hardiman said. “So far this year, the Austin community is no. 1 in homicides and shootings. Once again, this is not a march but a proactive event to reach our youth."