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Chicago's New Mayor and the 'Silly' Decisions of Criminals


We wrote last week about why Chicago is, in a number ways, a fitting destination for the Democratic National Committee's 2024 convention -- especially after the election of Brandon Johnson as the new mayor.  Johnson hasn't been sworn in yet, but he's already being tested.  He's responding to those tests...predictably.  Poorly, but predictably.  As we noted in a previous post, after a large group of teens rampaged through the city over the weekend, Johnson couldn't even get through the first paragraph of his response statement without reflexively defending those who caused the mayhem:


This is really rather on-brand for Johnson. Here's a flashback clip of him as a county commissioner reacting to prior lawlessness in the city he will now lead:

In on-camera comments that Julio covered yesterday, the incoming mayor doubled down.  One word in particular really bothered me here:

"Silly" decisions. He sounds like the popular guidance counselor at a high school urging his fellow adults not to ruin the lives of a group of freshmen and sophomores who had a food fight in the cafeteria. In reality, he's the mayor-elect of the nation's third-largest city, and the "silly decisions" in question included burning vehicles, robbery, violent assault, and inflicting gunshot wounds. Watch this report from Chicago's ABC affiliate and tell me if you think "silly" is a word that is appropriate to use in the context of what happened over the weekend (with many media and law enforcement observers warning that things will likely only grow worse as the weather gets warmer):


Ashley Knutson and her boyfriend DJ were searching for a place to eat when they happened upon a crowd along Wabash Avenue. "I said, 'DJ, I just got pushed,'" she recalled. "He turned around and said, 'Don't you put your hands on her, don't you push her.' As soon as he said that, everything went crazy. They went crazy. Started jumping us, saying they were going to kill us."...Devante Garrison-Johnson isn't even visible in the video as he's already on the ground. "They were kicking and punching me and I just had to get to defense. Can't do much when there's like 20 people on you," he said. Lenora Dennis had just come out of Macy's on Wabash just seconds before the attack began. She said she tried to stop several police officers, but when they didn't stop she intervened herself...Two teenagers were shot in the chaos, and 15 were arrested. Dennis said she's lived in Chicago all her life and never witnessed anything like that. She said it was not a small crowd. As she put it, anyone who cares about Chicago needs to stop this and prevent it from happening again.

A CTA bus driver -- a city employee -- was physically assaulted during the crime spree.  How silly.  Another local news outlet spoke with some tourists who seem to be taking a less sanguine view of all the silliness, which happened to include an attack on their vehicle:


A husband and wife drove from Indianapolis to see the sights on a warm spring weekend in Chicago, but their Saturday night ended with their minivan being attacked by an angry mob of young people and the husband hospitalized. “For 4 hours after the incident my husband and I were just shaking,” the wife told WGN. The Indiana woman was a passenger in the car, while another relative was in the back seat and her husband was at the wheel as they drove near the Chicago Cultural Center. “Suddenly a mob of teens between 16 and 18-year-olds began climbing and hitting our truck,” she said. “We even saw them get on top of a bus.” The husband was treated at a hospital for cuts; but his wife says the injuries are more emotional than physical. “We’re so scared right now,” she said. “We don’t want to step out of the house.” WGN is not identifying the couple for their safety. The family is now back home in Indiana.  “One of our daughters came and picked us up,” the wife said. “We now have to figure out what we’re going to do with the car, but that’s the least of our worries.” Images obtained by WGN Investigates of the scene show their Toyota minivan had its windows shattered and several large dents on the rear of the vehicle.

It is appalling that anyone needs to be told this, let alone the soon-to-be mayor of the city, but yes: Demonizing crime is right and necessary.  Crime and the people who commit crime must be harshly condemned and held accountable in order to uphold a civil society.  The rights of victims matter more than the sensitivities of criminals.  I'm not saying that every single minor who was involved in last weekend's dangerous disorder should be thrown in prison and deemed to be irredeemable by society.  But teenagers are impressionable, and the next mayor of Chicago is certainly leaving an impression on them in terms of what will be tolerated and coddled.  What's especially disturbing is the claim that Chicago Police were reluctant to intervene during the riot.  To the extent that that's true, on one hand, it's their literal job to protect and serve.  People and property were in danger.  Fifteen arrests seems pretty weak, given the number of participants.  


On the other hand, voters have sent a clear message to the city's police force by electing a mayor who will absolutely not have their back.  If officers decide that intervening mid-crime is too likely to result in a political persecution if something goes sideways, they'll sometimes back off and focus more on cleaning up messes after the crimes have happened.  It should be very obvious how dangerous that would be.  And by the way, "mere" property destruction is not a victimless crime, as some apologists like to insist.  These kids didn't "just" harass people and steal goods and stomp on cars.  They shot people.  They sent innocents to the hospital.  Mass lawlessness has a way of spinning out of control, and making excuses for it is outrageous.  I'll leave you with some "political protest"-related "silliness" leading to a murder in California.  When looting and shoplifting is accepted -- or not "demonized" -- this sort of thing will inevitably happen.  Congratulations on all the "progress:"

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