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Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is catching major heat behind a tweet she posted in response to a mass shooting that took place at an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado Springs over the weekend.
On Saturday night, a 22-year-old gunman entered Club Q with an AR-15-style semiautomatic weapon and began firing. Despite authorities arriving at the scene immediately, Anderson Lee Aldrich – who has been identified as the alleged gunman – was able to kill five people and injure 25 others before being subdued by patrons.
Lightfoot, a member of the LGBTQ+ community, tweeted, “I’m sick of this shit. How many people need to be murdered? How many lives torn apart? Until it actually stops? We don’t have to live like this. And we don’t have to die like this.”
People immediately went in on her inability to curb gun violence in her own city.
Chicago mayor catches heat for calling out gun violence in Colorado
One person said, “People ask that about your city everyday, but yet you make it easier for criminals to run the streets freely, You might want to sit this one down girl.” Others highlighted the city’s insistence that gun violence is down despite daily reports of multiple shootings.
Here’s the thing–as a Chicagoan, I completely understand people’s outrage. I grew up and still live on the Southside. Here, sadly, gun violence has and continues to be a norm. But at the same time, these people’s complaints are a day late and a dollar short given the fact that much of this crime could’ve been prevented with all hands on deck.
Most people know that Chicago is a heavily segregated city. At one point you could stand on the L platform downtown and know who was riding which train based on their skin color. And even though gentrification is hitting us just like many other major cities, that racial/socioeconomic divide still exists with gun violence and other violent crimes historically and notoriously taking place in Black and Brown communities–until recently.
Past mayors created the mess that Mayor Lori Lightfoot is tasked with fixing
I perused that Twitter thread, and just like you can tell which neighborhoods people were traveling to on the L, I could tell that most of these people tweeting do not live in areas with high concentrations of crime–yet. And with criminal activity increasingly spilling into more affluent neighborhoods, those residents are afraid that their communities will mirror the ones they’ve been able to avoid and ignore.
But, I’d argue that this rise in crime is not all Mayor Lightfoot’s fault, and it could’ve been prevented with citywide advocacy around controversial actions that dispersed and exacerbated crime across the city.
In 1999 his son, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, masterminded the controversial Chicago Housing Authority Plan for Transformation, which resulted in the the destruction of many of these public housing developments. The tearing down of those buildings triggered white flight back into the city. And families sought prime real estate where the projects once stood.
The displacement of those low-income families meant that wherever they landed in the city, the problems that existed in the projects went with them, too–including the crime.
Check your privilege
Daley also launched the Renaissance 2010 plan which led to dozens of school closures and increased violence between students having to attend new schools in different gang territories.
Then, after Daley came Rahm Emanuel. During his tenure he closed over 50 schools in Black and Brown communities and half of Chicago’s mental health clinics. All of these events have been linked to increased criminal activity.
For over 50 years, failed policies, machine politics to protect power and privilege and the continued neglect of underserved communities have gone unchecked. And these people solely blame Lori Lightfoot for where we are now? Absurdity.
Violence against marginalized groups and turning a blind eye to injustices committed against underserved communities are all crimes against humanity.
Yes it’s possible to hold our mayor accountable for what she has and hasn’t done. But it’s equally important to check yourself, especially when prioritizing your privilege contributes to the conundrum we’re all in.