Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Monday that she was “not happy” about violence that again touched downtown Chicago over the weekend and ended with a cancellation of Sunday night’s performance of the play Moulin Rouge.
“We’re working our tails off every single day. Obviously not happy about this weekend,” Lightfoot told reporters at an unrelated news conference. “Particularly distressing is, again, the number of young people that seemingly are involved in acts of violence. It’s clearly not acceptable and that’s why we’ve got to keep doing the things that we know are working.”
The violence follows a period of concern among hoteliers and restauranteurs who rely on downtown tourism for their livelihoods. It also comes at a politically fraught time for the mayor, who could announce at any time she is seeking re-election, and for her police Superintendent David Brown, who some of her opponents have promised to dismiss if they unseat her.
In one shooting, Chicago police said six men were engaged in a drug deal inside a downtown taco restaurant Sunday when one of the men robbed three others. All six fled the business and one of the victims fired shots, striking two bystanders behind the Chicago Theatre just before 5 p.m.
The victims, two men ages 27 and 55, were taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where the younger man was treated for a wound to his right hand and the other treated for a non-fatal wound to the head.
The shooting led to the cancellation of a production of the Moulin Rouge play.
Hours earlier, about a mile-and-half north in the city’s Gold Coast, an 18-year-old man was killed during a shootout inside the at Sonesta E-S Suites hotel in the 200 block East Walton Street, according to authorities. At a midday news conference Monday, police said women renting a room at the hotel let several men in through an emergency exit and the shooting followed a verbal altercation. The shooting happened in an area known for its of expensive condominiums and five-star hotels.
“I’m not going to rest and I know the superintendent and the entire department shares my resolve that we’ve got to do more to give people confidence and make them feel safe because they are safe,” Lightfoot said.
“As I’ve said, we’ve made progress this year, but it’s not good enough, and we talked a lot over the course of the weekend and again today about more resources we need to commit to the CTA and making sure people have confidence not only in the CTA but all modes of transport and downtown. We’ve obviously got to step up our efforts,” the mayor said.
Chicago’s central downtown business district, which includes the Loop, the Mag Mile and the Gold Coast, is one of the city’s most-policed areas, though it is nowhere near being among the city’s most violent areas, which have remained for years in communities on the South and West sides. Downtown remains outsized in its political influence as the city’s chief economic engine, with its concentration of tourist and shopping destinations, as well as City Hall.
Safety concerns about downtown have risen since a rash of lootings at high-end stores and hundreds more businesses that took place after the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. The CTA has also grappled with crime and violence on trains and at stations.
In all, Chicago had 32 shooting victims and seven homicides during the period beginning Friday evening to ending Sunday night, according to police.
Chicago police Superintendent David Brown said at a press conference Monday that homicides and shootings were down at the end of April, compared to last year. But that news, coming after a two-year surge in gun violence, was eclipsed, perhaps, by the spate of shootings in the downtown area over the weekend.
Brown blamed a widespread increase in the use of guns to resolve conflicts for the spike in violence.
“Almost everywhere in this country personal conflicts are being resolved with guns,” he said. “I don’t want you to characterize this as a victim downtown is more important than a victim on the West Side or the South Side.”
In a statement, the Chicago Loop Alliance called the Sunday’s shooting near the theater district unfortunate, but pointed to ways that it had addressed safety, including its contracting of unarmed private security to patrol State Street overnight four days a week, and its “Ambassadors” program, a team of workers who clean State Street and answers questions from the public.
“These isolated occurrences do not represent the average day or night for those of us who live, work, and play in downtown Chicago,” said Michael Edwards, alliance president and chief executive officer.
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