CHICAGO - The rise in Chicago carjackings was under the microscope on Monday.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot met with local leaders to discuss how the city is working to curb the problem.
Chicago police announced they are expanding the vehicular hijacking task force and installing more POD cameras and license plate readers around the city. They also detailed how they are working with federal law enforcement and suburban police departments to catch carjackers.
The mayor revealed that half of the people arrested in Chicago for carjackings are juveniles. She believes there is a correlation between remote learning and the rise in carjackings.
"A lot of parents went to work during the day thinking their teenagers were logged on for remote learning, only to find something us. And I ask, ‘is there some new market for stolen cars?’ And unfortunately the answer was no – that for many of these kids, some of whom had no prior involvement in the criminal justice system, this was pure boredom," Lightfoot said.
The Chicago Teachers Union slammed the mayor's remarks, calling them hurtful, racist and unsubstantiated.
"Every child in our public schools in Chicago deserves an apology from the mayor today, who claimed with zero evidence that there was a correlation between remote learning in 2020 and an increase in car-jackings, which have been growing across the nation. To suggest that our students are somehow disproportionately responsible for these crimes is precisely the kind of scapegoating and smear tactics Black and Brown students and adults have had to contend with in any discourse about crime for generations.
"Does the mayor not understand that to claim that remote learning causes car-jacking is intellectually unsound and politically venal? Is the reason she resisted moving to remote learning during the Omicron surge because her bogus belief in that false correlation has become part of her crime-fighting tactics?
"The mayor’s rhetoric today hails back to the 1980’s smear tactics of Ronald Reagan and his education secretary Bill Bennett. What we need today instead is real partnership and resources to address not just the root causes of crime, but the poverty, disinvestment and institutional racism that drives so much dysfunction in our neighborhoods. Public school students and families need respect and support from the mayor, not her endless finger-pointing and buck-passing – especially not onto the backs of our students, who the mayro continues to desperately shortchange in the public school district that she runs."
Chicago police say there have been 177 carjackings in Chicago so far this year — that's down 23 percent from the same period in 2021 but still far higher than pre-pandemic levels.