If you listened to Police Superintendent Johnson and Mayor Emanuel at their 31-minute Monday morning press conference after the big shooting weekend recently (63 wounded, 12 dead from Friday at 6 PM until Sunday at midnight), the name of the game was blame.
And I suggest you do listen. Right here. It's quite something to hear in its entirety, sans sound bites.
Emanuel's gargantuan platitudes, crocodile tear face, overblown drama and lack of syntax led his words to nowhere.
Johnson's words, however, led to everywhere but the two conducting the press conference. No secret we had a violent weekend, he conceded. One that he takes personally. But it's everyone else's fault.
Tiny Dancer and the Supe (their nicknames; the former given to the mayor by his security detail and the latter was what Emanuel called Johnson at the press conference) kept moving the targets: themselves.
Supe said it wasn't Tiny's fault because he's invested in programs for at-risk youth and employment opportunities in bad neighborhoods. And that shootings and murders were actually down.
The real culprits, Supe said, were a set of repeat gun offenders willing to use guns at the drop of a hat. And lenient judges who dole out slaps on the wrists to them. People in the neighborhoods who won't tattle on the shooters. A lack of mentors. And gang conflicts. He's tired of it, he said.
Oh, and the Governor. He needs to sign a bill, Supe stated, presumably one that will stop the gunfire.
This city can do better, said Supe, as can parents and community members.
Tiny, CPD's biggest supporter, according to Supe talked about what he did that morning: taking the train in with his daughter on her way to her summer job, on the way to talk to a group of families at a "graduation" that was part of his summer jobs program.
He said he told them about the Jewish wedding ceremony where a glass is broken, which signifies that in the midst of joy, life is fragile.
Then he said he went to the hospitals; Mt. Sinai (later adding that his parents met at Mt.Sinai) and Stroger to hug the doctors and nurses and to tell them to take care of themselves and to let them know how much he appreciated what they did this weekend. And that he had a heavy heart.
He said he talked to two mothers who have the same aspirations for their children as "I do. And you do."
Tiny said it's not about CPD and summer jobs--but the moral fabric of a community. He said this didn't happen in every neighborhood in Chicago. Supe said it happened in four police districts on the south and west sides.
(But Shots are fired in EVERY neighborhood in Chicago. From the South Loop to Rogers Park; from Lincoln Park to Bridgeport. All 77 official neighborhoods in Chicago have bullets flying, and I sure hope Supe and Tiny know that and get it.)
Tiny said the weather didn't pull the trigger. (Who said it did?)
He said in other parts of city without jobs, people didn't pull the trigger. (Oh, yeah?)
Later he mentioned having been with people from Belmont-Cragin who were celebrating the possibility of a new school in Belmont-Cragin. He said they know that the city stands with them.
Why he would bring this up during this particular press conference is anyone's guess.
Tiny said much to his rabbi's chagrin, he goes to church a lot. And thats how he learns a lot about the neighborhoods. And compassion. And faith.
Don't think for a moment that people don't know who in the neighborhood did this, he implored. And they have a moral responsibility to speak up, he said.
Both Supe and Tiny said we're a better city than this.
Supe said somebody knows who did the shooting. If you're tired of it, he said, get your buddies to put down the guns.
"Half the city has my cell phone number," Supe said. And he gets tips and clues. He said he's been all over the country to see what others cities do.
He insisted there was no drain of resources from Lollapalooza, which just happened to be happening at the same time as the shooting spree.
There are good people in the neighborhoods where this happened, said Tiny. He mentioned a single mother who cleans a school and has three sons--one who goes to Northwestern and another applying to the University of Chicago.
Then he talked about some sayings from a rabbi that were said at his family bar mitzvahs.
So why aren't the good people in the neighborhoods turning in the bad guys? someone asked.
Supe said he understands what's lacking between the community and the police. He said he's trying to change that. There's a lack of faith. But the police department isn't here to raise children, Supe added. The parents have to do that. Then he told a story about little kids going face down at a playground while gunshots fired in the background; and when it was over, they got back up to play. This is what's being normalized, he said.
Supe said he's got some good leads on the shooters, but no arrests. He said shooters get a pass from everybody. Everybody blames everybody but them.
So, that was that. The mayor and the police superintendent of a major US city got up and basically took no responsibility for a 54 hour period in which 75 people were shot. And while extra officers were deployed in response, the shootings go on. In fact, there were 14 the day of the press conference.
But Rahm is fighting tooth and nail to get a mayoral term-limit referendum blasted off the ballot in November that would prevent him from running for a third term in February.
If this is all you got, Rahm, platitudes, little anecdotes about what you did today, faked outrage and a great big blame game, save your money.
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