Chicago Alderman Ray Lopez wants Mayor Rahm Emanuel to make good on his 2011 campaign promise to hire 1,000 more police to quell the city’s never-ending gang violence.
Lopez is also demanding that Emanuel call in the Illinois National Guard, state police, sheriff’s officials or any other law enforcement to protect the city’s law-abiding residents from thugs that have killed and wounded hundreds with gunfire this year, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
“Are you willing to engage with the National Guard? Maybe that’s a discussion we have to have,” Lopez told WLS radio. “Are you willing to engage the State Police to come into Chicago? Maybe that’s a discussion,” he said.
“The police are now force to be reactionary. They’re forced not to be pro-active and engaged. … We’re pulling them back because of the safety concerns we have for our officers. But that hurts our ability to bring stability to the neighborhoods,” Lopez, who represents the 15th ward, told the paper.
Lopez’s comments followed a gang related shooting this week that sent a 6-year-old Englewood girl to the hospital with a bullet wound to her stomach. The girl, Tacarra Morgan, was on her front porch when she was caught in the crossfire of a gang-related shootout around 1 p.m. Tuesday, one of numerous similar incidents in recent days, DNA info reports.
Morgan underwent surgery and is expected to recover.
Emanuel railed against those responsible for Morgan’s injuries after Wednesday’s city council meeting, according to the Sun-Times.
“You have three generations sitting on a porch enjoying a summer [day] in Chicago. A grandmother, a mother and a daughter. … This beautiful child shot in the stomach because a bunch of thugs are shooting at a bunch of other thugs. … Thank God she’s not gonna lose her life because of the great medical work of the doctors and nurses at Comer Hospital. But her life will be different,” Emanuel said.
“When is enough enough? Where is — and I don’t mean when I say the community just the people of Englewood. All of us. This is a child of Chicago. Where is the outrage and the condemnation and moral outrage about a bunch of gang-bangers shooting at other gang-bangers without a sense of responsibility or accountability? Not only morally, not only ethically, but from the criminal justice system. And there’s not a weekend that our officers are not putting their lives on the line … pulling people off the streets who have a criminal record that’s longer than ‘War and Peace.’”
“But I also believe in consequences, actions you are responsible for and you should be held accountable for. And the voice of a community at large. Those gang-bangers need to know there’s consequences—both morally and legally,” the mayor said as he pounded the podium, according to the news site.
The mayor’s remarks prompted Lopez to speak out and demand Emanuel put his words into action.
The Windy City has witnessed 361 murders so far in 2016, nearly all shootings, according to DNA info stats. Last week alone, 78 people were shot and 10 killed, a pace that accelerated over the weekend, when 55 shootings took five lives in three days, Breitbart.com reports.
“What happened yesterday and what has happened three times in my ward this week already — these are atrocities against the community. And everything needs to be on the table,” Lopez told the Sun-Times Wednesday. “We can’t simply say that we’re doing enough or keep shifting the blame. This is our problem. We need to step it up.”
Emanuel was elected in part on a promise to hire 1,000 additional police officers, but the promise never materialized because of the city’s chronic budget problems. Emanuel reportedly moved some officers from desk duty, and disbanded special units to put more officers on the streets, but has relied heavily on overtime to address violent outbreaks, according to the news site.
Lopez said the city should raise property taxes to pay for more police officers, a burden on taxpayers who were hit with a $588 million tax increase for police and fire pensions and school construction last fall, and another expected increase for teacher pensions.
“We have to decide if having our streets fully protected, if having our streets be places where children can come out without getting a bullet in their stomach just by sitting on the porch is worth paying for,” Lopez said.