On Thursday, Mayor Brandon Johnson announced a sweeping plan to prevent violence over the coming Memorial Day Weekend. The plan includes youth engagement programs and community outreach events, as well the Chicago Police Department (CPD) canceling one day off for all officers this weekend to increase its citywide presence, and activating its Summer Operations Center.

Johnson announced the plan at 63rd St. Beach in Woodlawn, flanked by stakeholders such as CPD interim superintendent Fred Waller, Chicago Fire Department commissioner Annette Nance-Holt, Alds. Desmon Yancy (5th Ward) and Lamont Robinson (4th Ward), pastors and leaders of community organizations and nonprofits.

“However you decide to spend your holiday weekend in Chicago, your safety is my top priority,” Johnson said. “To that end, our public safety agencies have plans in place for the weekend and summer months to ensure that everyone can enjoy our city in peace.”

Also standing behind Johnson were SEIU Local 73 executive vice president Stacia Scott, Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) president Stacy Davis-Gates and Chicago Public Schools (CPS) CEO Pedro Martinez—and the mayor wasn’t about to let that go unnoticed.

“Look: we have labor and Chicago Public Schools working together,” he said. ”Some of you all are probably feeling like you’re in a dream, right? And so you have, Pedro‘s here, Stacy‘s here, Stacia‘s here. You have the business community that‘s here. It‘s an exciting time for the city of Chicago.”

As part of the plan, the City is partnering with CPS, CTU, SEIU, business leaders, churches and nonprofits to hold events across the city to bring youth together in safe spaces to have fun and positive interactions.

The plan is funded in part by $2.5 million from the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities to support violence prevention and outreach efforts to youth, and will underwrite 253 grassroots organizations in 24 communities on the South and West Sides.


On Tuesday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced a new, permanent Citywide Crisis Prevention and Response Unit (CPRU) that will deploy 30 “Peacekeepers” and street outreach teams to reduce violence and respond to crises.

“The most important work we do is keeping our communities safe, and this is another important step towards addressing violence and conflict through research-based, community-focused approaches,” Pritzker said in the announcement.

On Tuesday, Mayor Johnson called the CPRU “an essential tool in keeping our communities safe because these individuals bring invaluable insight and knowledge that allow us to reduce conflict before it escalates, so we are proactive instead of reactive in addressing the causes of violent crime.”

At Thursday‘s press conference, Esther Franco-Payne, the executive director of

Pastor Chris Harris speaks at Thursday's press conference, with (from left) Mark Cabrera, Ald. Desmon Yancy, and MASK founder Tamar Manasseh standing behind him. | Jim Daley for The TRiiBE®

Several other nonprofit leaders, including Beyond the Ball executive director Rob Castaneda, New Life Centers executive director Matt DeMateo, and Mothers Against Senseless Killings (MASK) founder Tamar Manasseh described plans for cookouts and other events designed to create a community presence in areas afflicted by violence.

Manasseh, who along with MASK has spent nearly a decade “positively occupying” a street corner at 75th and Stewart for nearly a decade to prevent violence there, made a point of saying how “encouraged” the new administration made her feel. “For once, in all the years that we’ve been occupying that corner, we’ve never had an administration that we could actually work with, an administration that actually kept their promises—especially not so quickly,” she said. (Johnson was inaugurated less than two weeks before the press conference.) “So I am so grateful for that.”

Several pastors were in attendance, including Pastor Chris Harris of Bright Star Church in Bronzeville.

“We have a great opportunity to turn the tide,” said Harris. “Let’s all make sure that we disappoint the expectations of those who are expecting an uptick in violence. Let’s collaboratively disappoint those expectations.”

Asked by The TRiiBE how the violence prevention plan can be adjusted if it is not as successful as hoped, Mayor Johnson said, “there’s always room for a certain level of nimbleness. That’s who I am as a leader.”

He added, “We’re always going to assess and reassess and evaluate our work. As far as what it’s going to look like in the future, we’re going to make it bigger and stronger. In Chicago, we’re going to get better at this work.”

Johnson added that there are many people in the City who have not had an chance to engage with the Mayor’s Office on the fifth floor of City Hall.

“So, for other organizations and institutions that want to participate in igniting the soul of Chicago, I’m on the fifth floor,” he said, referencing the theme of his inauguration speech. “And we’re going to bring the fifth floor a lot closer to the community.”

is the digital news editor for The TRiiBE.