Chicago Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson warned against vilifying youth while condemning a chaotic “Teen Takeover” of the Loop over the weekend, which saw hundreds of young people descend on the downtown area for two nights in a row.
Two teenage males, ages 16 and 17, were shot while standing in a crowd during the mayhem on Saturday night, as hundreds of young people smashed cars, blocked traffic, and fought in the streets. Both victims were transported to a hospital and listed in fair condition, according to Fox 32 Chicago.
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“In no way do I condone the destructive activity we saw in the Loop and lakefront this weekend. It is unacceptable and has no place in our city. However, it is not constructive to demonize youth who have otherwise been starved of opportunities in their own communities,” Johnson, a progressive who defeated moderate Democrat Paul Vallas earlier this month, said in a statement on Sunday.
“Our city must work together to create spaces for youth to gather safely and responsibly, under adult guidance and supervision, to ensure that every part of our city remains welcome for both residents and visitors.”
Chicago police arrested nine adults and six juveniles in connection with the takeover, which was advertised on social media. A 16-year-old male was charged with unlawful use of a weapon, while two other suspects were charged with possession of a stolen vehicle. Most of the other arrests were for reckless conduct.
Johnson and Vallas went to a runoff after defeating a field of seven other candidates, including current Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who became the first Chicago mayor in 40 years to lose re-election.
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Lightfoot condemned the “reckless, disrespectful and unlawful behavior” on display over the weekend, while putting the onus on parents to step up.
“As I have said before, we as a city cannot and will not allow any of our public spaces to become a platform for criminal conduct,” Lightfoot said in a statement. “Most importantly, parents and guardians must know where their children are and be responsible for their actions. Instilling the important values of respect for people and property must begin 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’s since distanced himself from that position, saying he will not reduce the police budget while arguing that hiring more officers will not solve the city’s crime problems.
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