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Mayor Defends Police Response at the Taste

By Kevin Robinson in News on Jul 9, 2008 2:39PM

Yesterday, the mayor (finally) responded to the gang violence at the Taste this year. "We had 3.5 million people. It's only one shooting—and all of the sudden, you're describing it as chaotic. It's not chaotic. ... This is very safe," said Daley. The mayor, who was at an Academy of Achievement conference in Florida when the shootings took place, said that the police were present at the Taste, but were powerless to stop the violence.

"You come out of the L. You're a gang-banger. But, what is a gang-banger? Is [it] a kid that has pants, a hat and a shirt? He thinks he's a gang member. ... Can you see the police stopping every person coming down who looks like a gang-banger [based on] how people dress?" Daley said.

"You have to be cautious. You can't just send a hundred policemen and—say if it's Gang X African-Americans—and start grabbing every African-American [in the area]. You'd have a full-scale riot. You have to use common sense. ... Everybody's not involved in a gang, too. Let's put everything in perspective."

The mayor also rejected the notion that the city's Olympic bid was jeopardized by the shootings.

"We've had issues like this in the last 10 years in the city, 15 years. You know that [on] July 3rd. Police know how to handle it. You have to work it. ... They know who they are. We had good police down there. They walk up. ... They talk to 'em [and say], 'You're here with your family. This is a great 4th of July celebration.' They get it," Daley said.

"Yes, we had gang bangers down there. I'll be very frank. Yeah. They didn't do anything wrong. They come down there—and they did. They came down with families ... Everybody knows that. We had no problems. We had a number of of individuals in and around the CTA, had a disagreement, they all knew each other and started shooting."

Regardless, Police Supt. Jody Weis is looking into the circumstances that surrounded shootings, and whether a better police response could have mitigated the violence. "He still wants to know what happened and wants full detail of how it was handled. He has not made a judgment on that. He's still gathering the facts," a City Hall source told the Sun-Times. "You'd best believe he wanted to know what happened. He's reserving judgment until he finds out what happened," the source said.