Chicago’s Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson has warned against demonizing youth and condemned a “Teen Takeover”, which took place in the Loop on the weekend. Hundreds of teenagers flooded the downtown area for two consecutive nights.
Two teenagers aged 16 and 17 were shot in the crowd on Saturday night as hundreds of youths smashed cars and blocked traffic, and fought. Both victims were taken to the hospital in fair condition.
“I do not condone in any way the destructive activities we witnessed this weekend on the Loop and Lakefront. This is unacceptable, and it has no place in Chicago. It is not constructive, however, to demonize young people who are otherwise deprived of opportunities within their own communities”, Johnson, a liberal who defeated the moderate Democrat Paul Vallas in a recent election, said on Sunday.
Our city must create safe and responsible spaces where youth can gather under the supervision of adults so that all parts of our city are welcoming to both residents and tourists.
Chicago police arrested six juveniles and nine adults in connection with a takeover that was advertised via social media. A 16-year-old male was charged with unlawful use of weaponry, and two other suspects with possession of stolen vehicles. The majority of arrests involved reckless behavior.
Johnson and Vallas were forced to go to a second round after beating a field of 7 other candidates. This included the current Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot who was the first mayor to lose her reelection in over 40 years.
Lightfoot criticized the “reckless and disrespectful behavior” that was displayed over the weekend. He also urged parents to take action.
Lightfoot stated in a press release that “as a city, we cannot and will never allow any of our open spaces to be used as a platform for criminal activity.” Parents and guardians should be aware of where their children are at all times and take responsibility for their actions. “Instilling important values such as respect for others and property begins at home.”
Chicago police have struggled to rein in crime in recent years, with homicides hitting a 25-year high in 2021. Johnson faced attacks from the centrist wing of the Democratic Party during the mayoral race over his past support for reallocating funds from the police department to other social services.
He has since disavowed that position and said he would not cut the budget for the police while maintaining that adding more officers won’t solve the city’s crime problem.