Sadly, Memorial Day weekend is habitually marred by violence and death in Chicago, where Democratic officials decided to employ a new strategy this year.
Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker announced the deployment of roughly 30 “peacekeepers” into Chicago’s streets, whose function was to “provide essential assistance in de-escalation, conflict resolution, and crisis support across Chicago.” The city’s new left-wing, police-skeptical, crime-minimizing mayor lent his support to this plan, arguing that “it is critical that we have as many stakeholders as possible at the table to ensure peace and safety on our city’s streets.”
Brandon Johnson has dodged questions about whether he plans to rebuild the Windy City’s depleted police force.
fPerhaps “peacekeepers” and their “de-escalation” approach to “conflict resolution” will suffice. How’s that looking?
A man is charged with beating and robbing another man in Little Village while wearing a neon yellow “peacekeeper” vest, officials say.https://t.co/XGDzI5oAR5
— CWBChicago (@CWBChicago) May 28, 2023
A Chicago man wearing a neon yellow “peacekeepers” vest helped a group of people beat and rob a motorist in Little Village on Friday night, according to a Chicago Police Department report. The allegations come after city and state officials lauded the use of “peacekeepers” as a tool they would deploy over the Memorial Day weekend to tamp down violence across the city. Oscar Montes, 31, was held without bail by Judge Maryam Ahmad on charges of robbery, aggravated battery, and unlawful vehicular invasion Sunday afternoon. The trouble began around 10:55 p.m. as Chicago police officers saw a large group fighting near 23rd Place and Washtenaw. Additional CPD units were sent to stabilize the situation…But less than five minutes after officers cleared up from that incident, CPD surveillance officers reported that a group of people had pulled a man from a car and started beating him, a police report said…
A police surveillance camera recorded the entire attack, Golaszewski said, and officers who reviewed the footage identified a man wearing a yellow vest as one of the attackers. Police officers searched the area and quickly located Montes walking away from them while removing “a neon ‘peacekeepers’ vest,” according to the CPD arrest report. No other arrests were made…Montes is on parole for a 2012 case in which he pleaded guilty to aggravated discharge of a firearm into an occupied vehicle. Golaszewski said those allegations stemmed from an incident involving a rival gang member of Montes in Little Village. Court records show Montes was originally charged with attempted murder but pleaded guilty to the lesser charge. He was released on May 6, 2022, after serving a little more than ten years of a 12-year sentence, according to Illinois Department of Corrections records. State officials are reviewing his parole status in light of the new allegations.
Per the Chicago Sun Times, “it’s unclear which violence prevention organization, if any, Montes was working for.” Was this guy hired as a “peacekeeper” despite a violent felony conviction, having spent a decade in prison? Did he steal the vest off of an actual peacekeeper (the exact number of which appears to be in the hundreds)? The plausible explanations that jump most immediately to mind here are not good. As for the approach to keeping the peace in Chicago, the statistics have been horrific this year:
The tally of violence in Chicago this Memorial Day weekend is approaching some tragic numbers. By early Monday afternoon, at least 11 people had been killed and another 38 wounded since early Friday evening. The death toll was the highest since 2015, when 12 people were killed. The total number of those shot, however, was still far below the 71 people wounded by gunfire over the 2016 holiday weekend. For the Memorial Day weekend total, the Sun-Times tracks incidents from 5 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Tuesday.
That was the number as of mid-Sunday evening. Perhaps Chicago authorities should focus more on empowering law enforcement to aggressively police crime, with city officials’ backing. Unfortunately, voters just made a decision that makes such a shift even less likely than it was before. On the subject of atrociously bad policies in Illinois, this is infuriating, via the Wall Street Journal editorial board:
We told you Wednesday about the Illinois Invest in Kids scholarship program, which lawmakers in Springfield had the chance to extend for 9,000 low-income students this week. Instead, Democrats led by Illinois Senate President Don Harmon and House Speaker Emanuel Chris Welch tossed it aside in rank obeisance to the teachers unions. The small program, which provides privately funded scholarships for children to take to independent schools, is scheduled to sunset at the end of the year, with the final scholarships going out for the 2023-24 school year. Lawmakers needed to get its extension into the state’s budget implementation bill to ensure its survival. They didn’t.
Unions want to kill the program because its popularity showcases the failure of the public schools. Invest in Kids had more than 31,000 applications last year, roughly five students for every scholarship it could provide. Every family lined up for a place at a private school is an indictment of a union monopoly that continues to prioritize its power over student learning. Nowhere is this more pronounced than in districts with low-income families. Black and Hispanic families support the scholarship program in large numbers because they often have children assigned to Illinois schools where less than a third of students are proficient at reading or math, according to data from Wirepoints and the Illinois State Board of Education.
Illinois Democrats, funded and controlled by the teachers union lobby (students in Illinois were locked out of classrooms longer than most other places in the world during COVID, based on no science), crushed this small, popular program because the government unions don’t like any competition. It’s a disgrace. As the Journal also notes, “Illinois spends an average of more than $16,000 per pupil on its public schools. Gov. J.B. Pritzker conditioned his tepid support for Invest in Kids on the promise of massive new investments in public education that has included some $350 million a year in additional funding to public schools since 2017—more than $1.3 billion altogether. Where did the money go?” Good question. How’s this return on investment? Answer: “The net benefit to educational outcomes has been zero. A glance at the National Assessment of Educational Progress for Illinois fourth-graders in 2017 showed 15% of black students were proficient or above in math. In 2022, 12% of black fourth-graders were proficient or above. In reading 15% were proficient in 2017 and 13% in 2022.” One additional footnote from the editorial:
Mr. Pritzker attended the private Milton Academy in Massachusetts and has sent his children to Chicago’s Francis Parker and the Latin School, posh private schools where tuition tops $40,000 a year. Sen. Harmon’s kids have attended private Catholic school St. Ignatius, while Mr. Welch’s attended Timothy Christian. Timothy Christian and St. Ignatius both accept students from the Invest in Kids program. The lawmakers deserve to be called out for the ignominy of shutting down the same path for their children’s less fortunate schoolmates.
Rich, powerful Democrats have school choice for their families. Poor people do not. Anti-school choice fanaticism isn’t about protecting public education. It’s a cruel, elitist scheme to benefit a deep-pocketed political constituency, actively harming underprivileged children. Anyway, between these two stories, is it any surprise that Illinois is among the nation’s leaders in out-migration?