Emanuel plans to hire more officers as activists plan 'peace surge'

ByLaura Podesta WLS logo
Friday, September 2, 2016
Activists call on Chicagoans to fly flags upside down
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Many community groups in Chicago are taking part in a "Peace Surge" this weekend.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel discussed hiring more police officers Friday after the end of a very violent and deadly August.

Chicago saw 90 murders in August, making it the most violent month since August 1996. This year, Chicago has had more people killed than in all of 2015.

Emanuel said he has a plan to fix the Chicago Police Department, which includes putting more officers on the streets. He said the details of the plan will be formally announced on Sept. 20.

The City of Chicago has the resources to hire more officers, Emanuel said, but he did not specifically say how many officers he plans on hiring, or by when.

Emanuel said state lawmakers need to create stronger legislation so repeat offenders of violent crimes are taken off the streets for good.

"If I put more officers on the street, but we have the same lax gun laws, then we haven't reached public safety," Emanuel said.

When asked if he took responsibility for the city's skyrocketing crime rate, Emanuel said he is focusing on finding solutions rather than assigning blame.

"I appreciate the question in the sense that I take responsibility like everyone who has a role to play," Emanuel said. "By just saying do you blame, in all due respect I'm looking for solutions but appreciate the question."

Emanuel's announcement drew criticism from Cook County Commissioner Chuy Garcia, his opponent in the 2015 Mayoral Election.

"For a candidate who called my new cop plan fairy dust, look who is acting like Tinker Bell now," Garcia said.

Community activist Phillip Jackson, founder of the Black Star Project, said the city is in crisis. He wants everyone this Labor Day weekend to fly their American flags upside down as a symbol of distress.

"We've had 2,900 people shot here in Chicago. We've has 470 murders here in Chicago. We think at the very least that is a national disaster," Jackson said.

He wants his effort to go national and get the attention of the White House.

Jackson is also kicking off a series of anti-crime events all around Chicago, calling it the Community Peace Surge.

"They're going to have music, they'll have food, they'll have the kids there, they're going to have haircuts for kids, braiding hair for the children," said Carolyn Zeigler.

Zeigler will be taking part in activities all weekend. Her son was a victim of gun violence more than 15 years ago. She hopes police officers will show up at the events around town.

"The community used to be together with the police, we used work together with police but so many things have happened. We are quick to blame the police, but we are quick to call them too," Zeigler said.