News & Politics

Chicago Cops Under Fire For Policing of Social Distancing Despite Bloody Memorial Day

Chicago Police work the scene after a gunman opened fire at Mercy Hospital, Monday, Nov. 19, 2018, in Chicago. A police spokesman said the gunman was dead, but it was not immediately clear if he took his own life or was killed by police at the hospital on the city's South Side. (AP Photo/David Banks)

Chicago had the deadliest Memorial Day in four years, but the cops made sure that a party on the south side was practicing social distancing. Some of us might question the priorities of police who were enforcing Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s edicts against large gatherings while bodies were dropping all over the city.

But I guess 10 dead and 40 wounded isn’t as important as making citizens obey.

Chicago Tribune:

Chicago experienced its deadliest Memorial Day weekend in five years — at least 10 people shot to death and 40 others wounded — despite a stay-at-home order and stepped-up police patrols.

The death toll nearly matched the long holiday weekend of 2015 when 12 people were killed. Last year, seven people were fatally shot and 43 others were wounded.

Perhaps if they had told the cops the shooters weren’t wearing masks in public, there would have been fewer shots fired.

Here the police were, right in the middle of the bloodiest weekend in years, out in force to shut down a large gathering.

I’m sure the police had the city covered and perpetrators who dared break the law were suitably dealt with. Yes, but what about the shooters?

This was the first long holiday weekend for Chicago’s new police superintendent, David Brown, who has been on the job a little over a month. On Friday, he said his officers would be visible in every neighborhood to try to contain what is traditionally a violent three days.

The shooting began within hours after he spoke and did not let up: Two people killed and six people wounded Friday afternoon through early Saturday; six people killed and 10 people wounded Saturday evening through early Sunday; one person killed and 13 people wounded Sunday afternoon through early Monday; and 12 people shot Monday into early Tuesday, one of them fatally. One man accidentally shot himself Monday afternoon.

I’m sure the police are going to say sending a dozen officers to the site of a block party didn’t interfere with their patrols in violent neighborhoods. Maybe so. But the raid on a party, not because there were drugs present or shootings happening, but because the partiers weren’t standing six feet apart, calls into question the sanity of whoever is in charge.

But the weekend shootings were upstaged by a scuffle between police officers and a large gathering on the South Side Sunday night that was caught on video and caught the attention of everyone from Chance the Rapper to Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

Officers were called to the 7000 block of South Lowe Avenue in the Englewood neighborhood to disperse a crowd that had gathered on the street. The video shows a chaotic scene as officers struggled to break up the crowd, grabbing some of the people and chasing off others.

What are they going to do? Put the social distance scofflaws in jail? So the city is going to put them in a place where they’re far more likely to contract COVID-19 than outdoors at a party?

I guess it’s sort of like the boiling frog analogy.  Things are getting crazier and crazier, but city leaders aren’t noticing because it’s happening gradually. It doesn’t seem so crazy to send cops after kids at a party while the dead and wounded are piling up if you’ve slowly been going insane for a while.