Families of victims killed in Chicago gun violence to receive $1.5K for expenses, mayor says

Sister of man fatally shot in October calls Mayor Johnson's rhetoric 'a cop out'

Friday, June 21, 2024
Mayor Johnson blames past administrations for Chicago violence problem
Mayor Johnson on Thursday blamed past administrations for Chicago's violence problem.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Mayor Brandon Johnson did not mince words over his frustration over gun violence plaguing Chicago. The mayor said expanding financial resources to victims of gun violence is a step in the right direction and could help mitigate the problem.

"This crisis did not show up with simply a bullet. This crisis showed up when previous administrations decided to give up on these communities," Johnson said.

ABC7 Chicago is now streaming 24/7. Click here to watch

Johnson shared his anger on Thursday over the senseless loss of life to gun violence in Chicago.

The city's goal with the funds is to ease the financial burden and trauma caused by shootings.

The city announced the expansion of the Emergency Supplemental Victims Fund program to help shooting victims and their families.

"In a time of great loss and trauma, these funds provide much needed relief and stability for residents and families," the mayor said.

I absolutely do not want to hear that... What I want is accountability.
Marcelina Herrera, sister of gun violence victim

The fund provides $1,500 to families who have had a loved one die through gun violence to help cover funeral and burial expenses.

Shooting victims can also receive $1,000 to help cover basic needs, like medical bills, groceries and even relocation expenses.

The program started in 2022, with just five communities, but it's now expanding to 15 across the city.

The city is reinvesting $10 million over the next three years to help cover the cost, the mayor said.

Johnson did get defensive Thursday, when he was questioned about how he has responded to the violence crisis.

His finger pointing is a frequent talking point for the mayor when addressing violence.

"His last two predecessors were unable to adequately address the problem, but now it's on his desk, and he is the mayor. So, I think people are looking to him for leadership, and they're not looking to him for blame gaming," ABC7 Chicago Political Analyst Laura Washington said. "The challenge is his investments and his solutions will take a long time, years if not decades, and people are worried about their safety now."

ABC7 Chicago Political Analyst Laura Washington spoke on what the city needs to reduce gun violence; Trump possibly staying in Chicago during the RNC; Biden's legal protection for some undocumented people.

The mayor bristled when asked why he had nothing to say on Monday after the violent weekend.

"People of Chicago want action. We've been hearing words from administrations for so damn long in the city without action. People are tired of it. So, we invest in people. The people deserve more than just words," Johnson said.

Gun violence survivor Kevin Edwards has received the funds.

"It was terrible. I couldn't do anything else. I thought I was over with. I thought I was going to die," Edwards said. "It helped me to get to my bills and pay some of my bills off, and I was able to live of that for a little while."

He received $1,000 after he was shot five times last year on the city's West Side.

"It can cease. I believe what he said. Hopefully everyone can get on board and it can decrease," Edwards said.

The announcement comes amid a violent week in Chicago: At least 71 people were shot, nine of them killed, across the city from Friday evening to Monday morning, police said.

A 7-year-old boy was killed Tuesday evening, and a 22-year-old woman was killed Wednesday night near 31st Street Beach.

After the recent violence, ABC7 asked the mayor if he was considering changes to his summer safety plan.

"It's unfortunate that we have people fighting my administration against the investments that we are working to make," Johnson said. "Our parks are open. So let me just say that. Our parks are open."

READ ALSO | 2 women shot, 1 fatally, near 31st Street Beach, Chicago police say

"It's not just about having police officers surveil neighborhoods. It's about making sure we surround neighborhoods with love, and the best way to demonstrate love is to invest in people," Johnson said.

The mayor's office said it plans to invest another $3 million in hospital-based violence prevention by working with victims hospitalized after a shooting to stop the cycle of violence.

Marcelina Herrera's brother, Salvador Herrera, was shot and killed on the Near West Side while trying to stop a car break-in last October, five months to the day after Mayor Johnson was sworn in.

Marcelina Herrera's brother was shot and killed on the Near West Side while trying to stop a car break-in last October, five months to the day after Mayor Johnson was sworn in.

She is calling for more accountability from Mayor Johnson, saying his rhetoric Thursday was "a cop out."

"I absolutely do not want to hear that," Herrera said. "What I want is accountability. Mayor Johnson said he's all about actions. Well, the action should be that we don't feel safe now, so we need a better game plan now."

Eight months after Salvador Herrera was gunned down, no one is in custody for his murder.

"I've only heard about investing in long term and root causes, which I'm not against. I'm all for," Marcelina said. "But we also want to feel safe."

INTERACTIVE SAFETY TRACKER Track crime and safety in your neighborhood