RIVER NORTH — After 13 people were murdered in a string of shootings around Chicago over Father's Day weekend, Cook County's likely next top prosecutor declared Monday: "The violence in Chicago has no bounds."
Kim Foxx, the Democratic nominee for Cook County state's attorney, and Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson spoke to the City Club on Monday afternoon as part of a panel called "Chicago's Homicide Crisis," a previously scheduled event made all the more relevant following the bloody weekend.
"Chicago is gripped in a crisis as it relates to homicides and violence in our city," Foxx told the crowd. "The violence is Chicago has no bounds."
Johnson, in his second appearance before the luncheon of the city's business, legal and political community, talked about rebuilding public trust. Last month at the City Club, he acknowledged "trust has broken down" between citizens and his department.
It's getting better, he said Monday, but it will take time.
"The only way to make Chicago safer right now is for the community and the Police Department to work together for that," Johnson said. "I am seeing progress.
"The Police Department, your Police Department, I believe, is doing their best," Johnson added. "Rome wasn't built in a day."
Johnson said his first two months on the job "seems like two years already," and he joked that "Chicago Police officers hate two things: change and the way things are."
Johnson said the violence in the city is being driven by a small group of about 1,300 people — and the city knows who they are.
"The violence right now in Chicago is completely unacceptable. We know who's driving it. We have a strategic subject list. That list documents people. It's a computer software program that documents who will most likely be victims of gun violence or the perpetrators of gun violence.
"This past Memorial Day weekend we had 66 people shot," he added. "Eighty percent of those individuals were on this list that I'm talking about. Eighty percent. One hundred percent of the identified offenders from those shootings were on that list. One hundred percent."
"There needs to be a proactive, strategic approach," Foxx said, adding that the "piecemeal, whack-a-mole approach ... has failed us thus far."
Johnson blamed "a small subsection" of officers for police abuses, and promised "zero tolerance" for police misbehavior, saying, "We are serious about changing CPD internally." He said the Department is using social media including Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram to recruit minority officers, and the latest police exam had a 71 percent minority turnout.
He was joined Monday by Foxx, the Democratic candidate for Cook County state's attorney, who upset incumbent Anita Alvarez in the March primary, largely over those same trust issues.
Also on the panel was activist priest Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina Church and Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton, activist mother of slain teenager Hadiya Pendleton.
Both spoke of Chicago being a divided city where violence is expected in some areas and considered an aberration in others.
"I love Chicago, but I hate what happened to me here," Cowley-Pendleton said.
"I'm so sick and tired of hearing, 'We're not used to that happening in our neighborhood,'" Pfleger said. "In the other Chicago, whole communities are suffering post-traumatic stress."
Both took issue with the National Rifle Association and its lobbying to stymie gun control. "If I had it my way, the NRA would have direct accountability," Cowley-Pendleton said.
Pfleger also launched attacks on "Trump America" and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and, later, after the hourlong panel discussion, on Gov. Bruce Rauner.
As the Democratic candidate in the November general election, Foxx is the heavy favorite to defeat Republican Christopher Pfannkuche.
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