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President Biden was met at O’Hare International Airport Wednesday by Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot following a deadly Independence Day weekend in the Windy City.
The president was greeted by Lightfoot and Illinois’ Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker as he arrived in Chicago but he didn’t focus much time on the more than 100 shootings over the holiday as it was just a quick stop for him en route to suburban McHenry County for an event touting his Build Back Better initiative.
According to White House press secretary Jen Psaki, Biden reiterated his commitment to working with Lightfoot and city leaders to counter gun violence and added that the Department of Justice would soon be in touch about a recently announced strike force meant to crack down on gun trafficking in Chicago and four other cities — including New York.
According to The Chicago Tribune, at least 108 people were shot in the city — at least 17 of them fatally — between 5 p.m. Friday and 1 a.m. Tuesday. The 108 victims, whose number included two police officers, is the highest number recorded over a July 4 weekend, surpassing the previous mark of 103 in 2017.
The weekend violence was in keeping with what has been a bloody year so far in the Second City. Last week, police reported that there had been 332 homicides over the first six months of 2021, six fewer than in the first half of 2020 but a 35 percent increase over the 246 reported between January and June of 2019.
Hours before Biden landed Wednesday, three undercover officers — two of them agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the third from Chicago Police — were shot and wounded as they drove to an assignment on the city’s South Side. None of the officers’ injuries were considered life-threatening, and investigators said a person of interest was being questioned.
Chicago police Superintendent David Brown told reporters that 36 of his officers had been shot or shot at this year following Wednesday morning’s incident.
“This is a very challenging time to be in law enforcement but they are rising to the challenge of doing all they can,” Brown said. “And the work they do is extremely dangerous.”
Psaki said Biden also expressed to Lightfoot his personal support for the officers who were shot.
With Post wires
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