Letts: Chicago Mayor's Lame Word Games Can't Cover Up a Big Crime Problem


As a public service to Mayor Brandon Johnson of Chicago, here is the definition of “mob” (provided by, which he apparently does not know:

Mob (noun): 1. a disorderly or riotous crowd of people; 2. a crowd bent on or engaged in lawless violence.

It does not, as the mayor recently implied, have to refer to the Mafia. And no matter what the definition is, Johnson’s words do excuse criminal behavior.

At the end of July, a mob swarmed through a Chicago 7-Eleven in what WBBM-TV called a “teen takeover.”

Video footage shows kids charging into the store, knocking over displays and running out with stolen merchandise. In some cases, the teens were just there to destroy things and wreak havoc.

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To their credit, Chicago police responded quickly and arrested 40 of the alleged participants. Some of the apprehended teens have parents who will undoubtedly punish them. However, they also need to face charges and consequences for their actions. Whether this will happen remains to be seen.

If it was up to Johnson, though, the looters would probably be set free with an apology from the city.

When Johnson was questioned about the looting, rather than thank the police and talk about what the city would do to stop these raids from happening, the mayor took issue with a reporter who said the teenagers had participated in a “mob action.”

“That’s not appropriate,” Johnson told the reporter. “We’re not talking about mob actions.”

“It’s important that we speak of these dynamics in an appropriate way. This is not to obfuscate what has actually taken place, but we have to be very careful when we use language to describe certain behavior. There’s history in this city. I mean, to refer to children as, like, baby Al Capones is not appropriate.”

Johnson instead referred to the criminal mobs as “large gatherings.”

People quickly criticized Johnson for missing the point, perhaps on purpose. “Got it. Referring to the mobs of looting criminals as a mob is the problem. Thanks, Mayor,” one person tweeted.

Fraternal Order of Police president John Catanzara said the action was not a “teen takeover.”

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“It was looting. It was mob action,” Catanzara said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

“Nobody is renaming anybody little mini Al Capones. But they certainly, in many cases, had the same terrorizing effect that Al Capone had 100 years ago with these ‘teen takeovers,’ where they think they can do whatever they want with no repercussions, no parental supervision and no accountability.”

These teens are not “baby Al Capones,” but they are criminals and need to be treated as such under the law.

One has to wonder if the mayor objects to the term “flash mob” as if it is supposed to refer to Mafia bosses unexpectedly bursting into song and dance.

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Michael Letts is the founder and CEO of In-VestUSA, a national grassroots non-profit organization helping hundreds of communities provide thousands of bulletproof vests for their police forces through educational, public relations, sponsorship and fundraising programs.