Mayor Johnson, Chicago police unveil safety plan ahead of Memorial Day weekend 2023

ByEric Horng and ABC 7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Friday, May 26, 2023
Mayor Johnson unveils Memorial Day safety plan with holistic approach
Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson's first Memorial Day safety plan is a holistic approach combining policing, community investment and community interviention and actitivites.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson and Chicago police officials on Thursday announced a public safety and engagement plan for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend.

The new mayor took a different approached to announcing his safety plan, devoting the first several minutes of his press conference not to police strategy but to announcing a doubling of investments by the business and philanthropic communities to help fund summer youth programs.

"I'm talking about $3.5 million in grants to more than 250 community organizations to fund safe programing and activities for young people during the summer months, beginning Memorial Day," Johnson said.

Johnson said a $2.5 million investment from the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities' eighth annual Chicago Fund is part of the plan.

The public-private partnership will support violence prevention and youth outreach efforts across the city by funding the work of 253 grassroots organizations working across 24 communities on the South and West sides, beginning with engaging young people in activities during Memorial Day weekend and during the gap between the end of the school year and the beginning of Chicago Park District programming, city officials said.

Chicago Mayor Johnson unveiled a Memorial Day safety plan Thursday.

The funding will also support youth programming efforts during the summer and fall.

"I would encourage all of the private sector to get involved and be supportive of these programs as well," said Cabrera Capital CEO Martin Cabrera. "It's something that's needed, but it's something that truly works."

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Chicago police will be in all areas of the city this weekend, including downtown, the lakefront, the CTA and neighborhoods, with a special focus on large gatherings.

One regular day off will be canceled for all officers, and head of the weekend authorities have been targeting open air drug markets and conducting warrant missions.

Dozens of "peacekeepers" will also hit neighborhood streets to de-escalate situations.

"They communicate with us in some ways, but we don't ask that they tell us everything that they do," said Interim CPD Supt. Fred Waller. "But we see the areas where the violence doesn't happen, those are the areas they're in."

The Office of Emergency Management and Communications is asking residents and visitors to be aware of their surroundings, with many festivals, concerts and athletic events planned and the opening of the city's beaches. The large events scheduled include the Memorial Day parade, Soldier Field 10-mile and 10K run, and Suenos Music Festival.

Those in the city are encouraged to use public transit, as traffic is expected to pick up.

North Side Alderman Brian Hopkins, who is chair of the city council's public safety committee, said he's encouraged by the plan, the large investments in youth programs, and the police deployment strategy.

"We do have to manage expectations, and we have to prepare ourselves if we still do have some incidents over the weekend, it doesn't mean this is a failure. It just means it needs more time to come together," Hopkins said.

Starting Monday, Metra is expanding its Family Fares program to weekdays through Labor Day. The Family Fares program allows up to three children, age 11 and under, to ride free with a fare-paying adult.

Metra is also offering a $7 unlimited ride pass on Monday.

This is a developing story; check back with ABC7 Chicago for updates.

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