Chicago deploys peacekeeping force ahead of holiday weekend

  • In 2022, nine people were killed and 40 injured in Chicago over Memorial Day
  • Peacekeepers trained in de-escalation and conflict intervention will help this year
  • Other major cities are also making efforts to deter violence this holiday weekend

(NewsNation) — Ahead of the holiday weekend, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office is deploying anti-violence workers across the city of Chicago, calling them “peacekeepers.”

The goal is to combat what has become known as one of the year’s most violent weekends, with high rates of shootings and violence.

The city is hoping to avoid a repeat of last year, when nine people were killed and 40 were wounded in shootings between the Friday before Memorial Day and early Tuesday following the holiday. Chicago is deploying a highly mobile team specially designed to prevent violence in the streets.

Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Human Services made the joint announcement of the citywide crisis prevention and response unit. It’s described as a “highly mobile team designed to prevent violence and address conflict and crises in the city of Chicago.”

A statement from Mayor Brandon Johnson calls the Citywide Crisis Prevention & Response Unit “an essential tool in keeping our communities safe, because these individuals bring invaluable insight and knowledge that allows us to reduce conflict before it escalates, so we are proactive instead of reactive in addressing the causes of violent crime.”

The peacekeeper program is funded by the Reimagine Public Safety Act, a $250 million anti-violence initiative created as a reaction to the murder of George Floyd in 2020. It is a community-focused approach to addressing violent conflict, with members undergoing training in crowd de-escalation tactics, crisis intervention, and when to refer people to mental health or substance abuse programs.

Chicago is not alone in trying to combat violent crime. Cities such as Baltimore have implemented a Memorial Weekend curfew, and Miami will deploy over 100 goodwill ambassadors to keep a close eye on tourists.


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