Why is Chicago’s homicide rate going up?
The Chicago Police Department believes that the main factors involved in the raising homicide rate includes: troubled youth, distrust with police, guns “flowing” in, drug use, and gang culture. Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson reports “It’s not a police issue, it’s a society issue,” [it's the] “impoverished neighborhoods” [where] “people without hope do these kinds of things.” He also reported that distrust in police “doesn't make it easy for his officers” (Crepeau, 2017). Recent events have somewhat aggravated the situation. Distrust in authority and the violence rate took a sharp turn in November 2015 when the video of police shooting of Laquan McDonald was released. The video told a completely different story from what police had reported. Situations similar to this one continue to fuel the violence in Chicago. According to the Chicago Police Department, “homicides in Chicago this year have risen to levels not seen since the 1990s. There were 65 homicides in May; 99 in July and 92 in August” (Crepeau, 2017). These high of rates of violence have not been seen since the crack cocaine epidemic of the 1990’s. Some experts speculate that guns are the major issue in the city. The Washington Post Editorial Board reports that “The purchasing and selling of illegal guns fuels the violence in gang-heavy neighborhoods. Despite restrictive gun laws, guns are easily available from nearby States, such as Indiana. Also, the penalty for owning a gun is relatively low” (The Washington Post Community, 2017) A mixture of these factors listed has made a unique set of problems that the city has a hard time dealing with.
How is the violence affecting the communities in Chicago?
he high rates of violence affects the communities in Chicago tremendously. This has brought many long-time citizens to want to flee the city. One main reason that many citizens report as a reason to want to leave the city is because of the large amount of offenders that remain uncharged and not in jail. Xinhua News Agency reports that “The reason for low clearance in gang killings is because people just don't trust the police. This means that there is so much distrust for authority that victims of crime would rather retaliate themselves than going with information to the police” (Xinhua News, 2016). This makes it extremely difficult for crimes to be solved, and leaves violent offenders uncharged and still on the streets. Devon Foley for Intellectual Takeout reports that “[Many of the violent offenders in Chicago] have absent fathers. And the studies show that lack of a male role model is an express train right to prison and the cycle continues'" (Foley, 2017). The large amounts of young males being put in jails for acts of violence is hurting the communities. This puts stress on families, and can ultimately cause even more violence for the city through domestic violence and other common situations.
Steve Harvey interviews a former Chicago gang member and current Chicago citizens that are being effected by the violence. They explain their backgrounds, what they have experienced and how it has changed their lives.
Who is being affected the most by this problem?
Although the violence in Chicago is so severe that anybody can fall victim, The University of Chicago reports that “The victims were mostly [minorities] and in their teens, while many of the suspects had prior arrest records. And increasingly, much of the violence occurred in just a handful of neighborhoods.” Even though anybody can fall victim to Chicago's violence, some groups of people are more likely than others. Devon Foley, writing for Intellectual Takeout, reports that 90% of the homicides in Chicago involve males, and 75% of those males are African American. He says “No race comes even close to overall deaths by homicide. Keep in mind that based on 2010 Census numbers, only 33% of Chicago's population was classified as Black.” One of the ex-convicts from the program “Cure Violence” reports that “People do crime in Chicago because it’s what they grow up around– even if they know it’s wrong, they think they have no choice.” This means that those who have family members or close friends that are involved in the violence are more likely to follow in the same path. This creates a cycle of violence for the city, and can affect whole families.
How is the rate of violence expected to be in the future?
So far this year, numbers are higher than last year at this time. This is not a good start, and numbers are expected to be higher than ever. According to Megan Crepeau writing for the Chicago Tribune, “So far in 2017, there have been at least 42 homicides, up 23.5 percent from the 34 homicides from the same period in 2016...” (Crepeau, 2017). This goes to show how the violence rate continues to rise, even when the community is aware of it. The numbers have been so high that top government officials are taking action. John McWhorter reports that President Donald Trump wants to make changes if violence raise any more. President Trump Tweeted “If Chicago doesn’t fix the horrible ‘carnage’ going on...I will send in the Feds!” (McWhorter, 2017)
Chicago experts discuss Trump's thoughts on Chicago and talk about his possible future solutions to the problem.
What can be done to lower violence rates?
One of the major problems in Chicago is that nobody has a set plan that can help to “cure” the violence. The issues that the city is experiencing are so complex that one plan is never enough. Some things that have seemed to help in the past are government supported programs for youth that are put into place in hopes of changing the violent culture. Programs include: after school activities for kids, sports, and other things to keep kids off the street and out of danger. One program that the article “Finding Solutions to Gun Violence” by Jeff Truesdale highlights is “Cure Violence”. This program takes ex offenders and puts them on the streets to spread the word about why kids should stay out of trouble. Truesdale says to help Chicago “We should aim to shift the conversation from gun control and criminal justice to understanding what drives people to act violently in the first place” (Truesdale, 2015). Many people are making an effort to control the issues in Chicago. Public figures, musicians from the city and politicians all play their part in solving the problem. Mayor Rahm Emanuel says “It’s a complex set of problems that will be dealt with in a very comprehensive way… Everything from the police, to children, to what we have to do for their safety, to guns, to making sure we’re providing hope where there is despair.”” (Washington Post Community, 2017).