The shooting of a campaign worker in Chicago’s West Englewood neighborhood has led to a heated war of words between the incumbent alderman and one of his challengers in the 15th Ward.
Campaign worker Maxwell Little was handing out literature for candidate Joseph Williams in the 6600 block of South Marshfield Avenue Sunday afternoon, and broadcasting his efforts via facebook live. Suddenly, without warning, a series of gunshots are heard on the video, and after a brief jumble, the broadcast ends.
Little was hit once in the leg, and was treated and released at Little Company of Mary Hospital. And it was not his first brush with campaign fame in 2018.
Little made news earlier this year, when he and other staffers sued then-gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker, alleging racial discrimination and intimidation within that campaign.
He is also a staffer for mayoral candidate Lashawn Ford.
Ford said he is "hurt by what happened to him (Little) while he was engaging in the democratic process."
After Sunday’s incident, police reportedly counted a half dozen shots via nearby “shot-spotter” cameras. And candidate Williams, who was in the street himself with his two children, stopped just short of blaming incumbent alderman Raymond Lopez for the incident.
“I don’t put anything past the incumbent,” Williams said Monday. “I don’t think this is something that the incumbent would have not probably done---but I don’t want to say he’s done it without any kind of factual information.”
Williams said he was in the neighborhood because residents had complained they were being pressured to sign affidavits regarding their signatures on nominating petitions.
“The alderman and some of the people that work for him were coming to their homes,” he said, “making them sign affidavits stating that if they didn’t sign these affidavits, they could possibly go to jail.”
Lopez bristled at suggestions that he had anything to do with Little’s shooting.
“The opponent in question Is using this as an opportunity for cheap political points,” he said. “It is disgusting, it is outrageous, and it takes away from the real violence that we are facing in our communities.”
Taking a veiled swipe at his challenger, Lopez suggested the gunman probably didn’t recognize “outsiders” in the neighborhood. And he noted gang members have been known to visit hostile turf and shoot facebook videos to taunt opposing gangs.
“Gang members, drug dealers, think it is their right to shoot someone simply because they do not recognize them on their block,” he said. “This is a pattern that has repeated itself, it is a pattern that I have fought to address and end because this cycle of generational gang and drug violence must stop.”
For his part, Williams attempted to backtrack on suggestions that Lopez might have been involved. But left the door open.
“I will hope that it’s not the alderman, but who knows who it is really---you know?” he said. “And that’s why I think we have to do a bit more research.”
As reporters were leaving, he offered one more disclaimer.
“I will not say that it had anything to do with the alderman, and I want that to be on the record,” he said. “Because I do not know it as a sure fact.”