Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has a warning for gangs: Stay away from our kids.
Emanuel--formerly President Barack Obama's White House chief of staff and a Chicago-area congressman--is asking that even gang members show some regard for innocent children, and take their brawls "away to the alley."
Since coming into office 13 months ago, Emanuel has been shouldered with a soaring murder rate. As crime overall has dropped in the city and across the nation, Chicago already has had 275 murders this year, according to CBS News.
That's a staggering number, though still off pace to break the single-year homicide record of 970.
To combat the escalating murder rate, Emanuel's moved more than 1,000 police officers from behind desks to the streets and beefed up patrols on weekends, when much of the violence occurs, according to the Guardian.
However, a look at the headlines at the top of ChicagoTribune.com this morning—"Clerk hurt when masked men armed with knife rob store," "8 hurt in series of city shootings" and "Man acquitted of murder last year gunned down—make a pretty compelling statement: The Second City is still a violent place.
Emanuel puts the blame for the city's recent eruption of violence on gangs. The city has adjusted its strategy to focus on gang violence, he told CBS News. Certain liquor stores and communities where gangs congregate have been closed, and abandoned buildings have been boarded up or torn down.
He's also making an appeal to gang members.
When questioned about the death of 7-year-old Heaven Sutton, who was caught in the crossfire of rival gang members as she sold candy in front of her home in June, Emanuel commented, "It's not about crime, it's about values." He was pressed to clarify the comment.
"We've got two gang-bangers, one standing next to a kid. Get away from that kid. Take your stuff away to the alley. Don't touch the children of the city of Chicago. Don't get near them. And it is about values. ... And I don't buy this case where people say they don't have values. They do have values. They have the wrong values. Don't come near the kids—don't touch them.