On Friday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot kicked off what she hopes will be a safe and fun Memorial Day weekend with a message of welcome but tough love to young people and their parents.
Young people of all ages, races and ethnicities are welcome in all areas of Chicago — including downtown — as long as they conduct themselves responsibly with respect for people and property, the mayor said.
And adults have a responsibility to model and reinforce that behavior by knowing where their children are, going with them whenever possible, and calling and texting to keep an eye on their children when they can’t. .
“Therein lies the challenge. We can’t just unload our children and hope for the best. This is where the challenge comes in,” the mayor said.
“I want our children to enjoy safe spaces all over this city. I want us to continue working to create these safe spaces all over our city. But it starts at home. And it starts with the responsibility – of parents, guardians and caring adults – to make sure they do what all our parents have done: which is to set firm and clear rules of conduct. … Parents, you must instill this message and pass it on to your children.
Earlier this week, a divided city council agreed to toughen Chicago’s rarely enforced curfew law — to 10 p.m. from 11 p.m. for youths under 18 from 17 — in a desperate attempt to to stop an outbreak of youth violence.
The curfew crackdown is a companion to Lightfoot’s weekend ban on unaccompanied minors at Millennium Park beginning at 6 p.m. every Thursday and continuing through Sunday.
At Friday’s press conference with thousands at Holstein Park Fieldhouse, 2200 N. Oakley Ave., Lightfoot stressed that the goal was not to keep young people out of downtown.
“Our children are welcome everywhere. Wherever they want to be. … We should not and cannot fear and condemn black and brown children who come to town. It is also their city. We don’t act that way when white kids are coming downtown in droves,” she said.
“The problem is not that they come downtown. Not that they come in large groups. The question is whether the behavior is one that recognizes and respects people, goods and spaces.
The mayor’s mantra on parenting was underscored by Joseph Williams, father of five Chicago Public School students and founder of the Mr. Dad’s Father’s Club.
The nonprofit’s goal is to get fathers “actively involved” in the lives of their children, even if it means “getting men off the streets”, as he put it. Williams.
“We should know where our kids are going this weekend before summer. We need to make sure we hold our children accountable, but also tell them what our expectations are as parents. … If we want them to come in a while, it should be just that,” Williams said.
“Believe me, I understand that there are so many parents who work two or three jobs just to make ends meet. But even when we do, we must ensure that we are still responsible for our children. Give them at least a simple text or call to find out where they are. We just have to make sure our children are safe.
Lightfoot urged young people and their parents to download the My Chi My Future app to access “literally hundreds” of youth employment, arts, recreation and education opportunities this summer.
Enter your postal code and a menu of options will appear in front of you. There’s even a chance to win a four-day pass to Lollapalooza for those who sign up.
Weekend programs in 15 high-crime neighborhoods targeted by the city’s ‘whole-of-government’ approach – including ‘kickbacks’ filled with music and games with DJs who have already served 12,000 young people – will take place later in the night to fill in the gaps noted in the conversations with the young people of these neighborhoods.
“We need to be there — with our resources, with our community partners — at times on Friday and Saturday nights when they are most needed,” Lightfoot said.
With days off canceled as always, Chicago Police Superintendent. David Brown was deliberately vague about the number of additional police assigned to work this weekend.
He would only say that the security plan for Memorial Day weekend includes foot, bicycle and roving patrols; task force missions on road safety, DUI saturation and carjacking; and gang, gun and retail robbery investigations.