Amid Spike in Chicago Shootings, Authorities Brace for Potentially Violent Holiday Weekend | NBC Chicago
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Amid Spike in Chicago Shootings, Authorities Brace for Potentially Violent Holiday Weekend

"What were trying to target here is repeat, violent offenders who are in possession of guns,” state Sen. Kwame Raoul said.

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    On the same day Chicago police revealed the city's violence has reached an "unacceptable level," authorities are bracing for what could be another violent holiday weekend. Katie Kim reports. (Published Friday, July 1, 2016)

    On the same day Chicago police revealed the city's violence has reached an "unacceptable level," authorities are bracing for what could be another violent holiday weekend. 

    According to the CPD, June saw 72 murders, 361 shootings and 447 shooting victims. That's compared to the 47 murders, 235 shootings and 290 shooting victims reported last year.

    On Thursday, a woman was killed and four others wounded in a single shooting on the city's South Side. Sixteen others were wounded in shootings across the city that day. 

     "The day she was brought into this world was the day she was taken away," the victim's mother said. "By a soul-less Chicago individual. For no reason."

    Police attributed the spike in crime to "repeat offenders with ties to gangs" and said a number of shootings have been "committed with illegal guns."

    To combat crime, CPD is now adding more than 150 officers to the streets by hiring civilians to do office work.

    For the holiday weekend, the department is working with the FBI, Illinois State Police, the Cook County Sheriff's officed and the Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications.

    Beginning Friday, thousands of uniformed and plainclothes CPD officers will be joined by FBI agents, state troopers and sheriff's deputies.

    "In addition to a heavy police presence on highways, and major thoroughfares, including Lake Shore Drive, extra police officers will be highly visible in neighborhoods throughout the city, and at city parks, along the lake, and at Navy Pier on the 4th," police said in a release.

    The department is also using targeted raids to clamp down on violent crime. On Wednesday, 27 people were arrested on drug charges in araid in the 19th District.

    "CPD sent a strong message that violence and gang activity will not be tolerated when it completed a raid this week striking at street gangs throughout Chicago," the department said.

    A group of Illinois lawmakers also announced legislation Friday aimed at holding repeat gun offenders accountable.

    The Violent Gun Offender Sentencing Act, which is still being drafted, would lay out “presumptive guidelines for prosecuting repeat offenders."

    The bill, which is being introduced by state Rep. Michael Zalewski and state Sen. Antonio Munoz, would utilize existing sentencing guidelines and encourage prosecutors to give repeat offenders longer sentences. 

    "What were trying to target here is repeat, violent offenders who are in possession of guns,” state Sen. Kwame Raoul said. “People who we know will do harm unless we incapacitate them for a significant period of time."

    Raoul explained that the legislation steered away from policies that have been tied to mass incarceration, like “truth in sentencing” and mandatory minimum sentencing. He claimed that those policies don’t give offenders the incentive to do rehabilitative prison programs because there is little opportunity to be rewarded for good behavior.

    Raoul was joined by fellow lawmakers, as well as Father Michael Pfleger and a group of mothers who lost children to gun violence Friday.

    Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson thanked lawmakers for devising the legislation and condemned the city’s violent criminals.

    “These violent offenders are only emboldened to continue their behavior and drive the unacceptable violence occurring in some of our neighborhoods while they display a brazen disregard for human life,” he said Friday.

    Johnson explained that 85 percent of 2016 shooting victims, both non-fatal and fatal, are on the department's Strategic Subject List, which includes potential offenders and victims.

    Lawmakers are rushing to the city to try to address the pervasive gun violence.

    Sen. Dick Durbin visited the Lawndale neighborhood to discuss violence prevention efforts ahead of 4th of July Weekend, visiting with CPD officials from the 11th district and stopping by a community organization for grade schoolers.

    Meanwhile, Sen. Mark Kirk met with local leaders, community organizers and law enforcement officials in Maywood Friday to discuss legislation and strategies to protect families from violence. Among the guests was Delphine Cherry, the co-president of the Chicagoland Chapter of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. Cherry is a Chicagoland mother who lost two children in separate shootings. 

    "We are here today to make sure there is a silver lining to the deaths of Tyesha and Tyler and that kids in Chicago aren't dying because of Washington gridlock," Kirk said in a statement. "That is why I have worked with the Democrat Senator from New York, Kristen Gillibrand, to draft this legislation that would stop guns from being trafficed into Illinois."

    Kirk and Gillibrand introduced the Hadiya Pendleton and Nyasia Pryear-Yard Trafficing and Crime Prevention Act last year. The measure would make the trafficking of illegal guns a federal crime and would provide tools for law enforcement to get illegal weapons off the street.

    The CPD has taken more than 4,300 guns off the street this year, accounting for a 30 percent increase from last year. 

    “While the vast majority of Chicago is a safe and growing city, we know that communities that have historically struggled with violence continue to bear the burden of gang members committing crimes with illegal guns. We have made clear to these criminals that we know who they are and we are using every resource at our disposal to hold them accountable for their actions,” Supt. Johnson said. “Nevertheless, we cannot arrest our way out of this problem, and we have to work together to create better opportunities for at-risk individuals, and ensure that repeat offenders who consistently wreak havoc on neighborhoods know that there are penalties for their actions. Working with all Chicagoans, CPD will continue its efforts to keep our streets safe.”

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