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Chicago has become the largest major U.S. city to reopen as of June 11, 2021, just in time for Gay Pride Month. The city was originally scheduled to open in July. Mayor Lori Lightfoot explains why:
Due to the incredible progress we’ve made in our mission to stop the spread of COVID-19, I am thrilled to announce that we are able to safely transition into Phase 5 and become the first major city in the country to fully reopen. Our ongoing vaccination efforts, which prioritize equity and inclusion, have made a remarkable difference in our COVID-19 journey and have resulted in the lowest positivity rate since the beginning of the pandemic. This progress, as well as ongoing initiatives such as Open Chicago, have allowed us to safely lift capacity limits and reconnect our residents back to the activities they love the most. With today’s announcement and even more residents continuing to do their part and get vaccinated, we are one step closer to being able to put this pandemic in our rear-view mirror.
Mayor Lightfoot, Raise Marketplace, and World Business Chicago have come together to give away hundreds of gift cards to Chicagoans, especially healthcare professionals and frontline workers, in appreciation for helping to make a difference during the pandemic. Jay Klauminzer, CEO of Raise Marketplace, hopes the gift cards would encourage people to “explore their city and support local businesses.”
Gift cards of $250 which can be used on Raise Marketplace at more than 4,000 shops and restaurants, will be “hidden” somewhere in all of the 77 neighborhoods in Chicago each weekend through July 4, as an incentive to encourage people to “get back out” to local businesses.
Meanwhile, in less than a week into Phase 5, shootings in Chicago seem to be the other pandemic and have had no bearing on the reopening of the city.
Police are presently investigating the shooting deaths of four people on Tuesday morning around 5:45 a.m. CDT near 62nd and Morgan in Englewood on the south side of Chicago. Four others were wounded, and a young girl, who was not harmed were taken to local hospitals. The shootings follow those from Monday, June 14, 2021, in the Back of The Yards neighborhood, near 5200 South Lowe, where three people were shot around 11:05 p.m., and 18 others were injured.
Another person was fatally shot in Roseland on the South Side. The shooting happened about 1:25 p.m. in the 11000 block of South Wentworth Avenue, police said. A male, whose age was not immediately known, suffered a gunshot wound to his chest and was pronounced dead at Roseland Community Hospital.
A 42-year-old man was shot five times while driving in Englewood around 4:20 a.m. and crashed into a fence at Periwinkle Park in the 6500 block of South Perry Avenue. He was pronounced dead at the University of Chicago Medical Center. According to police, the man, whose name has not been released, stated before he died that a woman he knew shot him.
There have been plenty of other shootings in the city since it reopened on June 11:
- A 36-year-old man was critically wounded in a shooting Monday night around 11:45 p.m., after being caught in the crossfire of a drive-by in Austin on the West Side. About 11:45 p.m. A bullet also struck the windshield of a red Toyota, causing it to crash into a light pole. No one was injured.
- A 21-year-old man was shot in a drive-by in Marquette Park on the Southwest Side at about 10:30 p.m. He was taken to Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn and was stabilized.
- A 17-year-old boy and a 27-year-old man were shot in Englewood on the South Side around 8:40 p.m. in the 700 block of West 66th Street when they got into an argument with a group of people, according to police. They have both been stabilized.
According to criminologists, homicide rates in large cities were up more than 30 percent on average last year and up another 24 percent at the beginning of 2021. Memorial Day weekend is usually the beginning of a three-month summer season of violent crime.
With the pandemic, which kept many people at home receding, officials and police departments are bracing for a violent summer. “We are seeing an uptick in violent crime across the country, specifically gun violence,” Daniella Levine Cava, the mayor of Miami-Dade County, said. “People have been cooped up, they have been psychologically affected by this pandemic.”
Chicago’s plan to reduce violence was noted in the “OUR CITY, OUR SAFETY” document created in 2020. The document was written to reduce violence by 2023, to create a city where everyone feels safe.
While not anticipating reaching Los Angeles or New York City levels during Mayor Lightfoot’s first term, following this plan would build the infrastructure and establish the policies and practices that will achieve this reduction in the years to come.
While shootings continue to rise in the city, there has been no collaboration of companies offering financial incentives such as $250 gift card giveaways, reduced or free medicines for seniors who cannot afford their medications, concert tickets, free beer, etc., for those who may have information on gun crimes.
In Chicago, shootings have not stopped but escalated since the reopening of the city. Vaccinated people may revel in the excitement of being the first city to be fully opened and the joy of finally getting back outside for the summer as long as they stay clear of the bullets.
Opinion News by Brenda Robinson
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware
Chicago.Gov: Mayor Lightfoot Announces Chicago Has Moved to Phase 5 Fully Reopening the City
ABC-7 CHICAGO: 8 shot, 4 killed in Englewood Shooting, Chicago Police Say; by Michelle Gallardo
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Three Killed, 18 Wounded In Shootings In Chicago Monday; by Sun-Times Wire
The violence followed a weekend when four people were killed and 43 others were wounded across the city.
ABC-7 CHICAGO: Chicago shootings: 45 Shot, 3 Fatally, In Weekend Violence Across City; by Sun-Times Wire
The NewYork Times: With Homicides Rising, Cities Brace for a Violent Summer; by Neil MacFarquhar
ABC-7 CHICAGO: Rash Of Mass Shootings Stoke Concerns That US Gun Violence Spike Continues Into Summer; by Kathleen Foody
Chicago.Gov: A Comprehensive Plan to Reduce Violence in Chicago
Featured Image Courtesy of Hongao Xu’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of Chris Gallevo’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License