Amid reports of yet another young life lost to gun violence in Chicago, the Rev. Jesse Jackson called the surge of shootings in the city over the Fourth of July weekend "a national disgrace" that spotlights the need for "a reconstruction plan" for its most poverty-stricken areas.
In an interview with WGN on Monday evening, Jackson said the city is in "a state of emergency" after the closing of 50 of its public schools, the shuttering of dozens upon dozens of grocery and drug stores and a growth in the number of vacant lots, particularly on the city's south and west sides where much of the weekend's violence occurred.
"We need not just more policemen, but more teachers and more coaches and some plan for an economic reconstruction," he said. "There's nothing wrong with the people, the structure must change."
The civil rights leaders' comments echo those he made in a statement distributed Monday evening by the Rainbow Push Coalition wherein Jackson stated: "We have a plan for reconstruction in Iraq, Afghanistan and other dangerous zones, but there is no plan for reconstruction in our hometown of Chicago! In the meantime, we live in horror until next Monday's body count. We deserve better."
In response to the violent holiday weekend -- during which more than 60 people were wounded and 11 killed in shootings -- Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said lax gun sentencing laws were playing a major role in the continued bloodshed. Mayor Rahm Emanuel called on all the city's residents to "take a stand" against violence.
The shooting death of 19-year-old Jaynisha Scheffer on Monday marked Chicago's 200th homicide this year, according to the RedEye's Homicide Tracker. Eight other people were wounded in non-fatal shootings in Chicago on Monday night, the Tribune reported.
Homicides in Chicago through the first six months of the year were down compared to 2013, but the number of shootings had increased over last year.