CHICAGO - The United States celebrated Independence Day with parades, barbecues and fireworks, but in violence-plagued Chicago, 88 people were shot, 14 of them fatally.
The holiday weekend violence comes after increased media and police attention to the problem that has plagued Chicago all year, the nation’s third-largest city which is on pace for more murders than the 774 recorded in 2020 -- which was Chicago’s second deadliest year in the last two decades and more than New York and Los Angeles combined.
Holiday weekends usually are especially deadly in Chicago, and because of that, members of Chicago’s City Council took the unprecedented step of grilling police superintendent David Brown for six hours on July 2 about police strategies.
Despite the meeting, 10 more people were shot than last weekend, when 78 were shot, 10 fatally, across the city.
Last year 87 people were shot in Chicago, 17 fatally, over a four-day stretch that included July 4. That is a day more than this holiday weekend, so this year's July 4 gun violence was worse.
Nationwide, there were more than 400 shootings over the July 4 weekend and at least 150 people died, according to data collected by the Gun Violence Archive.
And along with five children who were shot this weekend in Chicago, two police officers — a commander and a sergeant — were also shot early Monday morning while trying to disperse a crowd on Chicago’s West Side. They are recovering from non-life-threatening gunshot wounds.
Outside the hospital Monday, Brown provided updates on other Fourth of July shootings, including a 5-year-old girl shot Sunday afternoon and four other children shot over the weekend in separate incidents.
“As we’ve seen too many times, tragically, someone else is being targeted and the unintended target, an innocent child, is struck,” Brown said.
Fed up with gun violence, mothers and grandmothers in Austin, one of Chicago’s most violent neighborhoods, went on a hunger strike and slept in a tent in the parking lot of an abandoned bank over the Independence Day weekend.
The women, who ranged in age from 21 to 71, included Rosetta Dotson, 67, who lost three nephews to gun violence over the years and Jackie Guider, 57, whose son Chavaris was fatally shot in the head by an armed robber on the streets of Chicago in 2016.
Sitting on chairs in a semi-circle in 90-degree heat on Saturday, the women prayed and talked about their neighborhood — Austin — which they love despite its reputation. For them, the only way the violence will stop is for the community to take action.
For mother and grandmother Jacqueline Reed, 71, things have never been so dangerous in Austin. The mother of three adult sons, Reed said she didn’t fear for their safety when they were growing up, but times have changed.
“I was never afraid. They rode big wheels up and down the street and we didn’t have that fear that something bad would happen,” she said.
© Agence France-Presse