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After Couple Executed In Street, Some Blame Puerto Rican Day Parade For Spike In Violence

By Steven Graves

CHICAGO (CBS) — In a horrific murder now seen across the nation, a couple was executed on a Chicago street during Puerto Rican Pride celebrations. The brazen shooting is now casting a gray cloud over the Humboldt Park neighborhood, and some say the festivities led to a spike in violence.

Days later, emotions are still raw. As a memorial for the murder victims continues to grow so does outrage from those who call the prideful Puerto Rican neighborhood home.

"It's a horrible situation," said Jose Lopez, who organizes the Puerto Rican People's Day Parade.

The event was held last weekend, hours before a caravan of celebrations on surrounding streets and when area police say the "execution" of Gyovanny Arzuaga took place.

His children's mother, Yasmin Perez, was also shot dead in the ambush.

Some believe the parade and its widespread appeal lead to trouble later on.

In the days after CBS 2 reported on the violence, we received emails from people insinuating it was linked to the event. In one post online, someone wrote, "The Mexican or Puerto Rican parades have invited violence" since she was a child.

"The causation is not the parade," said Lopez. "Its not the gathering. It is not the people celebrating."

The parade is always held on Father's Day weekend. CBS 2 looked at data in Humboldt park for that weekend each year from 2015 to 2019. In all, there were seven non-fatal shootings. There were also two homicides. Last year had no violence as the parade was virtual in 2020.

But in 2021 alone, there were at least eight shootings and three people killed.

Ald. Robert Maldonado, 26th, also claims the earlier parade had nothing to do with the violence.

"It does not make any sense at all," he said.

He wrote a post before the parade chastising police for planning to close down Marin Drive ahead of celebrations. He said the local commander had concerns over shootings because one happened on park property the Sunday before.

"It gave basically the signal that we as the Puerto Rican community to not know how to behave," Maldonado said.

"Thanks for inviting the violence," read one person's comment to Maldonado after the weekend of bloodshed.

"I stand by my opinion," he said. "Look, we're a people that celebrate outside."

And now those who live there hope the conversation can focus on what they call real causations of gun violence.

"It has everything to do with social ills and the marginalization of our youth," said Maldonado.

Community leaders also blame racism and gangs, and there is no clear explanation on why this year's spike took place.

But right now there are no plans to change Puerto Rican Pride celebrations yet.

On Thursday night, police were still looking for many suspects involved in the weekend shootings, including the murders of those two young parents.

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