CHICAGO: At least 11 people were shot and killed and about 70 others were wounded over the weekend in Chicago, in a spasm of gun violence that police attributed mostly to gangs and that the president’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, used to criticise the city’s Democratic leadership.

The violence peaked early on Sunday, including one shooting on the city’s South Side that wounded eight people.

By comparison, at least seven people were killed and 32 were wounded during the long Memorial Day weekend, which is often one of the most violent weekends of the year for the city, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Gang members are using large summer crowds as cover in some cases, police Patrol Chief Fred Waller said.

“They take advantage of that opportunity and they shoot into a crowd, no matter who they hit,” he said.

Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson planned to discuss the violence at Monday news conference. Police have said violent crime has declined overall in Chicago. Still, anti-violence protesters have blocked highways to voice their outrage.

Chicago ended 2017 with fewer homicides, 650, than 2016, when there were 771. Although the drop was significant, it exceeded the combined number of killings in New York City and Los Angeles, which are the two US cities bigger than Chicago.

Chicago’s gun violence has drawn widespread attention, including from President Donald Trump and his lawyer, Giuliani, who blamed the problem on Chicago’s longtime “Democratic rule” in a series of tweets on Sunday and Monday.

The former New York City mayor also tweeted his support for Chicago’s former superintendent, Garry McCarthy, referring to him as “Jerry” and calling him a “policing genius.” McCarthy announced this year that he plans to run for mayor next February against Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who fired McCarthy in 2015 after the release of dashcam video showing a white police officer shoot a black teenager 16 times.

Misspelling Emanuel’s last name, Giuliani tweeted: “He can do a lot better than Mayor Emmanuel who is fiddling while Chicago burns.” Giuliani also falsely claimed that Chicago had “63 murders this weekend.”

Police said in some of the cases shooters sprayed bullets indiscriminately into crowds in rival territories. The Tribune counted a total of more than 70 people shot between Friday evening and early Monday morning.

The weekend violence stood in contrast to a general decline in crimes in the city where shootings are down 30 per cent and murders down 25 per cent, according to police.

Nevertheless, Chicago’s official murder count, at 310 killings before the weekend, was the highest in the country and far eclipsed those of America’s two largest cities — New York and Los Angeles.

“Incidents of either random or targeted shootings on our streets are totally unacceptable,” said Fred Waller, a Chicago Police Department commander.

Published in Dawn, August 7th, 2018

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