As Chicago leaders prepare for an "all hands on deck" policing and community strategy to combat gun violence over the Fourth of July holiday weekend, Mayor Lori Lightfoot sent a message to "the young men" who could become "the shooters."
Chicago has seen a spike in gun violence during the last two weekends, injuring dozens and taking the lives of several children.
Read Lightfoot's message below:
I want to say a special message to the young men, mostly men, who are out there with illegal firearms and who are the shooters. I ask you, I beg you, and I pray that you will find your humanity, that you will think about the sanctity of life.
Before you pick up a firearm and pull the trigger, aiming for somebody else, think about the number of children that have been killed just in the last two weeks: a 1 year old, a 3 year old, a 13 year old, a 10 year old. A list that is painful for me to even recite. Families that will be forever shattered, families that will not recover from this hardship, mothers' hearts that are broken, fathers who were destroyed, grandparents who are living in mourning.
Think about that, young men, before you pick up a firearm. Think about that before you pull the trigger. Value your own life, but also value the life of others, and particularly our children.
It's no coincidence that we are announcing our weekend plans here in Ogden Park. Two nights ago, a 3-year-old girl was seriously injured in a shooting just over a mile southwest of here. And over the weekend, a 1 year old was shot and killed just a mile in the opposite direction. This is not who we are as a city and this cannot be who we are as a city.
When it comes to solving this problem, there are no simple or easy answers. If there were we would have seized upon them years, maybe decades ago. We simply, fundamentally must challenge ourselves. Me, as the mayor, the superintendent, the police department. But community organizations, the faith community, other elected officials, we must all challenge ourselves.
I said this before, and I know it to be true. Those young men that are out there on those corners, those young men who are playing out some fantasy on social media, we know who they are. They live in our communities. Reach out to them with a message of love, a message of reconciliation and a message of hope. If we turn those young men around, it will inure to the benefit of the entire city, and we will all be the better for it.
We have to do a better job of loving our children and providing them with an alternative to the life that too many of them have fallen prey to. Too many of our young men are prey to the streets, prey to gangs and drug enterprises that use their vulnerability, use their youth and naivete against them, putting them out on street corners to do what? There's no life there. There's no destiny. There's no dreams, there's no passion. But if that is all we give to them, to those young men, we have to do better as a city to step up and make sure that every single young person is connected to healthy, meaningful activities. That's what all of us want. That's what we're working towards. And we need to do better as a city.
But we need to prick the consciousness of those young men before they pick up the firearm, before they find themselves on a track where they feel like they have no other course. I want to stop and eliminate entirely the pipeline of our young men to the streets. I want to create a pipeline to the legitimate economy. I want to create a pipeline for a life of meaning and purpose for the young people in our city.