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Chicago homicides exceeds 700 for first time in 20 years

December 3, 2016  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Chicago homicides exceeds 700 for first time in 20 years

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After a year of gruesome violence so far in 2016, Chicago has hit another grisly milestone, as the number of homicides in the Windy City exceeded 700 for the first time in close to twenty years.

The 700-mark was surpassed when a 25-year-old man was shot and killed just before 6:30 a.m. on Wednesday in the Burnside neighborhood of Chicago, according to a police spokesman, Frank Giancamilli. Then, at approximately 8 p.m., a 24-year-old man was fatally shot in the South Shore neighborhood, he said.

The year started off with extreme levels of homicides. 50 of which occurred in January and the number didn’t decrease until the end of the summer, which is a peak season for shootings.

The 701 homicides as of Wednesday indicated a 56% increase from the 450 murders in 2015. With one month still to go until the new year, this year represents the most homicides since 1998, which saw 704 killings.

Statistics reported by the police department do not take into account killings on expressways, police-related shootings, other justifiable homicides or death inquiries that could later be redesignated as homicides. Authorities also reported that a fatal shooting transpired on early Thursday, December 1st, but an autopsy has not yet confirmed whether this death was due to a homicide.

Close to 4,050 people have been shot, a 50% rise from the 2,699 in 2015, Department statistics revealed. Shooting incidents also increased by comparable figures to 3,315, up 49% from 2,224 in 2015.

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The swell of violence has come at a time of chaos for the Police Department among an ongoing probe being conducted by the Justice Department in the past year’s fallout over the clip showing the fatal shooting of a black teen, Laquan McDonald, by a police officer.

Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, who was an unexpected appointment in March after the city’s top officer was terminated from his post over the treatment of the McDonald shooting, said his department is doing everything possible to resist the violence that is rooted in hopelessness and poverty.

On Tuesday, after a speech to the Union League Club, Johnson referred to 2016’s homicide totals “unacceptable,” accusing what he called “a small subsection of citizens” for the brutality.

“The police are doing their job,” he said to the press. “What we need help in is holding these repeat gun offenders accountable for this gun violence, and until we do that, we’re going to continue to see the cycle of violence.”

As the months passed in 2016, Chicago homicides have risen to numbers not seen since the 1990s. The 92 homicides that occurred in the month of August recorded the most the city had seen in one month since July 1993. In November, there was a total number of 77, the worst for that month since 78 that occurred back in 1994.

Violence throughout 2016 has now propelled gun controlled-Chicago past 700 homicides for the first time in 20 years

Violence throughout 2016 has now propelled gun controlled-Chicago past 700 homicides for the first time in 20 years

The city’s chaos continues to outpace both New York and Los Angeles, whose populations exceed Chicago’s. According to statistics, through about November 20th, New York, and L.A. had a combined number of 565 homicides, and both cities reported a combined number of 2,117 shootings.

Crime experts advise against about making year-to-year estimates of killings, arguing that long-term trends provide better insight into how the city’s level of violence has changed over time.

Authorities have blamed much of Chicago’s violence on the influx of illegal firearms through volatile neighborhoods and an uncontrollable gang problem.

The gangs, which were once highly structured, have fractured into small groups. Trivial disagreements and personal disputes can quickly turn violent, especially with social media, crime experts revealed.

Chicago police investigate a multiple homicide scene last month.

Chicago police investigate a multiple homicide scene last month.

Another component contributing to the violence could be a diminished morale among Chicago officers because of increased scrutiny in the fallout over the McDonald shooting, as well as a new law ordering detailed reports be filled out for every stop because of concerns regarding racial profiling.

In interviews, police recently told the Chicago Tribune that they had adopted a more careful approach to their work, worried that they could be sued, fired, or even end up in a viral internet video.

This year, the majority of the violence has been directed in neighborhoods on the South and West sides that have been troubled by decades of poverty, segregation, gangs, widespread narcotics sales, and other social issues.

Two of the Chicago’s most violent police districts — Harrison and Englewood — account for nearly one-fourth of shooting incidents and homicides.

Harrison, on the West Side, has seen the most homicides in the city, with 84 through November 20th, which is an 87% increase over the 45 victims murdered in 2015, according to department statistics. In the South Side’s Englewood District, homicides have surged to 81, a 179% rise from 29 in 2015. Additionally, in the Austin District on the West Side, homicides more than doubled to 54, from 26 one year prior.

Rev. Marshall Hatch, the pastor of the New Mount Pilgrim Baptist Church in West Garfield Park, revealed that he speaks to young individuals in the community about remaining in school and earning an honest living. But he recognizes that it does not come easy for them.

“It’s a culture of death,” he added. “There’s a lot of fear and a lot of assumption that they’re not going to live long. They’re going to get sucked up and killed.”

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