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Wave of shootings mars US holiday weekend

By HENG WEILI in New York | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-07-06 11:38

A screenshot of US President Donald Trump's Twitter account

A wave of gun violence was reported in some cities in the United States over the Fourth of July weekend.

At least 25 people died and more than 150 were injured in shootings, according to police and media reports.

Police said 13 people were killed in separate shootings in Chicago, including a 7-year-old girl who was at a Fourth of July party, the Chicago Sun-Times reported Sunday.

"We cannot grow numb to this. We are making progress in slowing shootings, but we have to do better, every single one of us," Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot tweeted.

In New York City over the weekend, 44 people were shot, with six dying of their injuries, according to police and news reports.

In a tweet Sunday, US President Donald Trump criticized the situation in the two cities and offered help.

"Chicago and New York City crime numbers are way up. 67 people shot in Chicago, 13 killed. Shootings up significantly in NYC where people are demanding that @NYGovCuomo & @NYCMayor act now. Federal Government ready, willing and able to help, if asked!" Trump wrote.

The Sun-Times later on Sunday updated the number of people shot to 72. The previous weekend, 65 people were shot in Chicago, and 18 died.

A motorcade on the city's South Side on Sunday called for an end to the gun violence, WLS reported.

"Put the guns away. Let the kids play," protesters chanted through Morgan Park.

In New York, the City Council passed an $88.1 billion budget last week that voted to shift $1 billion in funding away from the NYPD. The move came amid weeks of protest and social unrest following the May 25 killing in police custody of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The death of Floyd, a black man who died when a white officer knelt on his neck, led to nationwide protests over how America is policed, along with calls to defund the police.

"As I said when I voted NO on the budget: violent crime is skyrocketing in NYC. This isn't the time to defund the NYPD," Councilman Chaim Deutsch tweeted Sunday. "Hold your elected officials accountable for their vote. Their virtue signaling has made you less safe."

A combination of protests, anger and coronavirus lockdowns has created a volatile atmosphere in the US' largest city.

New York City Councilman Donovan Richards, a Queens Democrat, told the Daily News: "The people exploiting this moment are sensing the division on the ground and they're totally taking advantage of the streets, without a doubt.

"They sense division and therefore they understand they can take out their retribution on each other in ways they weren't doing years ago because there was much more unity between the department and what was going on on the ground," he said.

"The health and safety of New Yorkers is our top priority, which is why we are drilling down on problem spots with the NYPD," a City Hall spokesperson said in a statement.

New York City, which opened its beaches for swimming for the Fourth of July weekend, on Monday will move into the third phase of its reopening from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Olga Vlasenko, 35, took to the surf at Coney Island in Brooklyn on Friday.

"It's wonderful, I feel that I'm cooling off, refreshed, that I have a little more freedom," the home health aide told The New York Times.

The state also got a coronavirus scare on Friday when new cases jumped to 918 before settling down the next two days.

In Philadelphia, four people, including a 6-year-old boy, were killed and 12 others injured in 11 separate shootings over the weekend, NBC Philadelphia reported.

In Atlanta, more than 20 people were injured in shootings and three killed, including an 8-year-old girl, over the weekend, police said.

"There seems to be withdrawal by police," Russell Covey, Georgia State University criminal law professor, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (ajc.com). "The lack of a police presence may create something of a vacuum of authority."

Atlanta was the scene of the controversial killing by police of Rayshard Brooks on June 12. A former officer has been charged with felony murder in the shooting, which happened after Brooks, a black man, scuffled with two white officers and grabbed a police stun gun. Brooks was shot in the back after he pointed the stun gun at one of the officers, Garrett Rolfe.

Jason Segura, president of the Atlanta chapter of the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, told ajc.com that the rise in violence could be attributed to officers taking a less proactive approach after the shooting of Brooks.

"Officers are afraid to do their job," he said.

In South Carolina, two people were fatally shot, and eight others wounded at a nightclub in Greenville, South Carolina, early Sunday morning.

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