CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – If Chicago’s street thugs are going to attack each other, they should take their fight away from innocent children, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel told the CBS Evening News on Monday.
“We’ve got two gangbangers, one standing next to a kid. Get away from that kid. Take your stuff away to the alley. Don’t touch the children of the city of Chicago. Don’t get near them,” Emanuel — President Obama’s former chief of staff — told anchor Scott Pelley.
“And it is about values. As I said then [when a 7-year-old girl was shot and killed last month], who raised you? How were you raised? And I don’t buy this case where people say they don’t have values. They do have values. They have the wrong values. Don’t come near the kids — don’t touch them.”
At the time of their interview, Pelley put the number of murders in Chicago at 275 so far this year, up 30 percent from a year ago. On Monday alone, nine young people were shot in suspected gang-related violence, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
Emanuel on Monday announced a new effort to “identify, secure and in some cases demolish vacant buildings” to stop gangs from using them as gathering places.
The city said it will spend $4 million to demolish as many as 200 vacant and crumbling buildings located in high-crime areas. Structurally sound buildings used as gang hangouts will be boarded up and eventually put to good use, said a news release on the mayor’s website.
The city also has created a “watch list” of businesses such as convenience stores and liquor stores that attract gang members and illegal activity.
Of the 37 businesses on the watch list, 18 have been cited for various violations and are now having their licenses reviewed, the mayor’s office said. One of the 18 stores, AM Dollar, had its license revoked last week and will be shuttered. Four liquor stores also have been shut down.
“With these actions, we are sending a clear message to gang members: you will find no shelter in the City of Chicago. And whether it is a vacant building or a liquor store, we are committed to closing down cancers on our communities that serve as magnets for crime and gang activity,” Emanuel said.
Asked by CBS’s Pelley what promises the mayor can make to Chicagoans who worry about their own safety and that of their children, Emanuel said, basically, leave it to us:
“I will make a pledge, because the most important thing I care about is when you have violence in the city, I want you to think about your safety. Us adults — your pastor, your parents, your principals — we’ll take care of those problems. That’s our problem. You think about your studies.”