Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle are no longer electoral foes, but the two are once again at odds over the issue of gun violence in Chicago.
The two politicians are currently engaged in a public disagreement over whether gun offenders should be released on bond, and the issue is also drawing Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson into the fray.
In a letter addressed to Lightfoot, Preckwinkle said she is seeking to discredit a “false narrative” that she says Johnson has created, which blames the release of gun offenders, including repeat offenders, as “the root cause for gun violence” in the city of Chicago.
The letter, which was published in part by the Chicago Sun-Times, also obscures what Preckwinkle believes is the real root of the issue.
“It’s a false narrative, and they know it, and it’s infuriating,” Preckwinkle told the newspaper.
Preckwinkle cited the department’s clearance rate on homicides, which she described as “one of the lowest in the nation,” as a bigger issue than county prosecutors and judges releasing defendants on bond.
In a press conference Thursday, Lightfoot fired back at her former mayoral rival as she responded to the “nice letter” she received from the Cook County board president.
“It’s July, not March,” she said. “The election is over, and we had a result.”
The mayor said she stands by Superintendent Johnson’s remarks, noting that on one recent weekend in Chicago 76 offenders were arrested and 18 were classified as repeat offenders, but were released on bond.
“Who’s getting arrested? What are the charges?” Lightfoot asked. “What are the bond decisions being made?”
Lightfoot is seeking statistics from the county on which defendants are released on bond.
Preckwinkle dismissed Lightfoot’s demands, saying that “we can go back and forth all day about statistics.
“The public doesn’t care about spreadsheets,” she said. “They care about solutions and results.”
Chief Judge Timothy Evans also weighed in on the controversy and backed Preckwinkle, saying that he does not believe that pretrial defendants released on bond are adding to weekend crime statistics in the city.
Some activists, including Illinois Justice Project Director Sharone Mitchell Jr., argue that bond reform is not a driver of violence in the city.
“If you throw tons of resources into the things that cause violence, that’s before the timeline of somebody shooting somebody, or before the timeline of somebody picking up a gun,” he said. “If you stop these actions before they happen, that’s when you’re going to get the best results.”