The initiatives on this specific neighborhood are so simple as planting bushes and including inexperienced area to developing a curler rink and a group plaza. They are just like initiatives within the different 14 stretches of blocks recognized by the town as answerable for a disproportionate stage of violence throughout Chicago.
“We’ve got to build these anchors and infrastructure in the communities,” stated Lightfoot. “This is an opportunity, really a generational opportunity to make a long-lasting difference. So the next generation of kids that are growing up in this community have a very different trajectory and a very different sensibility about the built environment around them but also what the possibilities are for their own lives.”
“We can go down a litany of projects that have come and gone from communities and that’s the thing, they come and go. We need to make sure this comes and stays,” stated Crawford. “It’s like a ship, it’s not just gonna turn in a moment. We have to really do some things to change the values and beliefs. You have to change the culture.”
‘I obtained elected to shake issues up’
Lightfoot was elected in 2019 as the town’s first Black girl and overtly homosexual mayor. More than two years into the job, the volatility of a pandemic and the surge in violence have difficult her imaginative and prescient for a higher Chicago. Some have questioned how she’s dealt with that stress.
One flashpoint got here at a City Council assembly in June when she and a native alderwoman obtained into a heated confrontation because the assembly recessed.
Separately, in a January e-mail obtained by a Tribune reporter and authenticated by NCS, a pissed off Lightfoot wrote to a scheduler, “I need office time every day! I need office time every day!” repeating the sentence 16 instances in a row. In the identical e-mail she wrote, “If this doesn’t change immediately, I will just start unilaterally cancelling things every day,” 5 instances in a row earlier than ending with, “Have I made myself clear, finally?!” repeated 13 instances.
According to a NCS assessment of her schedule that day, the e-mail was despatched throughout scheduled workplace time. A supply inside her administration informed NCS, “This is who she is.”
“I don’t know what that means, ‘This is who she is’,” stated Lightfoot, when requested concerning the comment. “Am I a demanding boss? Yes I am. But I’m demanding on behalf of the residents of our city. We’ve got to be performing at a high level and I’ve got to set the tone for that.”
“The fact that that reaction happened is very, very telling,” stated Lightfoot. “In a city that is two-thirds people of color…that we don’t have journalists of color that are covering the Black mayor of the third largest city in the country is an outrage.
“I’m not going to fret about making buddies within the media, or accepting the established order as a result of I do not need the blowback. No. I obtained elected to shake issues up,” said Lightfoot.
She knows criticism comes with the job, and said she believes the majority of it is because of who she is specifically, but she won’t allow it to deter her in any way from continuing on the path she’s forged.
“I’m a Black girl and I’m a member of the LGBTQ group,” said Lightfoot. “It’s not okay that systemic racism, homophobia, and sexism nonetheless exist however I’m going to play the playing cards that I’m dealt.”
‘If people don’t feel safe, literally nothing else matters’
Some of that violence spilled over into 2021.
Despite some improvements compared to the spike of last year, murder is still up 48% compared to pre-pandemic levels with shootings up more than 60%, according to data from the Chicago Police Department.
In 2019, amid a decline in violence in the city for a third year in a row, Lightfoot told NCS, “The notion and the truth of security are actually, actually essential.”
Two years later, the idea holds.
“If folks do not feel secure, actually nothing else issues,” said Lightfoot. “I do know that, I personal duty for that together with each different stakeholder in our metropolis. We’ve obtained to be united and transfer ahead collectively to deal with these points.”
That call for unity comes amid a dynamic of local finger pointing at times between Lightfoot and the Chicago Police Department back and forth with the judicial system over core difficulties in driving violence down. But the call for unity also includes a need for support at the federal level.
“We want gun trafficking multi-jurisdictional strike forces to disrupt the move of unlawful weapons which might be coming into our metropolis,” Lightfoot told NCS. “I and different mayors throughout the nation have been beating this drum since day certainly one of his presidency…my expectation is that these strike forces will likely be at work right here shortly.”
In addition to Chicago, the department launched anti-gun trafficking strike forces to be based in Los Angeles, New York, the San Francisco Bay area and Washington, DC. All are known corridors where illegal guns are being trafficked and used in deadly shootings and other crimes.
‘We will move as fast as the trust builds’
On Wednesday Lightfoot and the City Council passed legislation to create a civilian oversight body for the Chicago Police Department, an issue she campaigned on but failed to find agreement for until now. It establishes a seven-member commission that can, among other things, help create policy with the police department, recommend candidates for police superintendent, and more.
“The police have a number of layers of oversight already,” said John Catanzara, the local president of the Fraternal Order of Police, during a City Council Committee on Public Safety meeting Tuesday, a day prior to the full council vote. “I do not know what you suppose you are going to get from a police pressure if you preserve laying the blame for what’s unsuitable on this metropolis at their toes.”
Lightfoot will retain the ability to ultimately hire and fire the department’s top cop, but she called the moment a “vital milestone in our mission of bringing additional transparency to our police division and its accountability companies,” and even more significantly in her eyes, building community trust.
When asked if she would run for mayor again she said, “What I’ve obtained to be centered on is that this era of children, not the following election, the following era. That’s what I’m centered on.” She never answered yes or no.
Back in Chicago’s West Garfield Park neighborhood, she hopes the effort in investment sets a standard for well after she’s left office and that the people in these neighborhoods accept nothing less.
“There has been and can proceed to be skepticism. Is this actual? Are you simply doing this for the cameras? No, it is actual. And we will proceed to be right here rain or shine as a result of I do know that if we will change the fortunes of this neighborhood, we will do it wherever within the metropolis,” said Lightfoot. “We will transfer as quick because the belief builds.”