Chicago reaches 500th homicide of 2016


Daniel Schwen

Chicago Police Department’s Labor Day weekend was far from relaxing following 65 shootings, 13 of them fatal.

Mona Murhamer, Staff Writer

5oo homicides.

9 months.

In a midwestern city widely known for its cold winters, murder and death have become so common that the Sun Times has created a Homicide Watch Chicago tab on their website.

According to the Sun Times, on Sept. 5, five weeks after being stabbed in the chest by wife Yvette Davis, Kenneth Whitney died at Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, marking Chicago’s 500th homicide in the past nine months.

Over the course of Labor Day weekend, 65 people were shot, 13 of them fatally, according to the Chicago Tribune.

While other American cities, such as St. Louis, Baltimore, and Newark, consistently have very high homicide rates, Chicago has seen a surge of violence since 2014. According to CNN, with the current rate climbing steadily, the projected number of homicides and murders by the end of 2016 reaches close to 700 victims.

With rising numbers, Chicago citizens point to poor gun control to explain the burst of violence.

“We border Indiana and Wisconsin, which have really lax gun laws. As a result, illegal weapons from gun shows are brought back here to be sold to gangs,” Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said in an interview with CNN.

Because of gang violence being amplified by the selling and buying of illegal firearms, many families teach their children from a young age to be careful on the Chicago streets.

“If you live in a society where [your children] have to learn to duck and dodge bullets, you have to teach them how to duck and dodge bullets,” said Chicago citizen Stephanie Armas to CNN.

However, the lack of gun control may be intertwined with another nation-wide issue.

In April, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Police Accountability Task Force issued a report accusing the Chicago Police Department (CPD) of institutionalized racism due to a series of police-related shootings of African-American victims.

“The community’s lack of trust in CPD is justified. There is substantial evidence that people of color– particularly African-Americans – have had disproportionately negative experiences with the police over an extended period of time,” said the report.

Chicago is not the only city to have seen a rise in police violence since in recent years.

“[Police violence] is disgusting. If white people were being killed by black police officers, they would all be going to jail. Because the victims are black and the officers are white, they’re avoiding trial. If police were being put in jail, it would set an example and maybe stop the violence,” said sophomore Phoebe Saul.

Johnson continued to argue that his people were doing all they could to combat said violence.

“It’s not a police issue, it’s a society issue. [In] impoverished neighborhoods, people without hope do these kinds of things. You show me a man that doesn’t have hope, I’ll show you one that’s willing to pick up a gun and do anything with it,” he said to the Chicago Tribune.

In any case, the distrust that many Chicago citizens feel towards their police department is contributing to the rapid rise in violence.

The report continued, “Reform is possible if there is a will and a commitment. But where reform must begin is with an acknowledgment of the sad history and present conditions that have left the people totally alienated from the police, and afraid for their physical and emotional safety.”