Chicago Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson on Chicago weekend chaos: 'We don't condone that behavior'

Johnson also spoke about the unruly crowds and violence in downtown Chicago that erupted over the weekend

Craig Wall Image
Thursday, April 20, 2023
Johnson addresses Chicago weekend chaos in Springfield
Chicago Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson spoke out about the weekend violence in Chicago while in Springfield to speak to the Illinois General Assembly.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WLS) -- Chicago's mayor-elect continued his visit to the state capitol Wednesday, where Brandon Johnson spoke before all of the state's lawmakers.

Johnson met with the Illinois House speaker and Senate president - relationships that will be key to getting things done in Springfield - before he spoke to a joint meeting of the General Assembly at noon.

FULL SPEECH: Brandon Johnson addresses Illinois General Assembly

Watch Chicago Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson's full address to the Illinois General Assembly on April 19, 2023.

Johnson spoke about the importance of Chicago and Springfield working together, but he also spoke out about the weekend violence in Chicago for the first time.

Johnson's inauguration is still nearly a month away, but his address sounded very much like a campaign speech as Johnson looks to win votes from the lawmakers whose help he will need.

Johnson was received with a warm welcome from a joint session of the Democrat-controlled General Assembly.

"I'm here today to establish a productive, collaborative and energetic partnership to invest in the people of Chicago and the engine of this economy here in Illinois," Johnson said.

He made his pitch for investments to deal with pressing problems for Chicago, including money for education and getting at the root causes of violence. He also talked of more funding for police mental health.

"And the truth is, we have shared values and shared challenges," Johnson said. "We have seen the kind of crime and violence that has torn families and communities apart for too long."

Johnson told lawmakers that Chicago and Springfield can get along even though they may not always agree on things. On several occasions, he received a standing ovation from Democrats when talking about his progressive agenda, but some Republicans were not impressed.

"Is there any accountability? Is there any consequences? There's no consequences in the city of Chicago instead, Brandon Johnson makes excuses for them," said Blaine Wilhour, R-107th District.

Afterwards, Johnson spoke publicly for the first time about weekend violence that caused chaos in downtown Chicago and along the lakefront.

"The violence that happened over the weekend - and the violence that happens too many weekends and too many days - of course we don't condone that behavior," Johnson said.

Johnson denied he was sending mixed messages over the weekend in a statement where said the violence can't be condoned, but also said it was not constructive to "demonize youth."

On Wednesday, he doubled down on that sentiment.

"So don't give people false choices. We get to do both, you all. It is well past due that we put an end to this dynamic that somehow, not making... Look, demonizing children is wrong," Johnson said. "We have to keep them safe as well."

Johnson also pushed for investments in young people, but also noted that police officers who put themselves on the front line should have the resources they need to keep people safe.

EXCLUSIVE | Brandon Johnson speaks after first meetings in Springfield

Chicago Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson wrapped up several hours of meetings with lawmakers as he prepares to address the general assembly Wednesday.

Johnson spent the morning meeting with state senators and representatives from numerous caucuses, looking to forge and strengthen relationships in Springfield that will be key to his administration's success. And he's already making a positive impression.

"Already we've gotten off on a very positive path because he came and met with us and, you know, spoke to us individually," said State Rep. Theresa Mah, D-Chicago. "We never really had, you know, that same kind of interaction with the previous mayors."

"It's April. I think we all just kind of get the chance to talk and get to know each other. But I feel good," said State Sen. Mike Simmons, D-Chicago. "I mean, the outreach has been awesome. And I think that bodes great things for the future. We need to be working together."

Johnson arrived in Springfield Tuesday night for several hours of meetings with lawmakers at the AFL-CIO Headquarters.

Johnson spoke exclusively with ABC7, saying he was "so very much excited about growing our opportunities in the city of Chicago, and making sure that the relationships that I've built over the course of my career, you know, provide the type of results that the city of Chicago wants."

Johnson has told lawmakers that he will be making five asks of them, but since he doesn't take office until May 15 and the legislative session is scheduled to end May 19, there is not much time to act. Public safety is expected to be a major issue.

"Trying to get the lay of the land on where a lot of our violence prevention programs are, coming up with innovative ideas for small business, to keep all of that afloat, and of course funding health care and education," said State Sen. Sara Feigenholtz, D-Chicago.

Johnson also met with the Progressive Caucus, the Asian American Caucus, and the Latino Caucus. Gov. JB Pritzker then hosted a dinner for Johnson.