Gee, I wonder why?
Chicago off to deadliest start in nearly two decades
From The Chicago Tribune: As the first quarter of 2016 nears an end, violence in Chicago has reached levels unseen in years, putting the city on course to top 500 homicides for only the second time since 2008.
As of 6 a.m. Wednesday, homicides totaled 135, a 71 percent jump over the 79 killings in the same year-earlier period, official Police Department statistics show. That represented the worst first quarter of a year since 136 homicides in 1999, according to the data.
Shootings have jumped by comparable numbers as well. As of Wednesday, at least 727 people had been shot in Chicago so far this year, a 73 percent rise from 422 a year earlier, according to a Tribune analysis of department data.
Worse yet, that jump follows two consecutive years in which shootings rose by double digits, the analysis found. Homicides also rose by about 12.5 percent last year over 2014.
If there was any hopeful sign in the numbers, it would be that for most of March, homicides rose citywide by a more modest 25 percent from the same year-earlier period, the department said.
Crime experts caution about making year-to-year comparisons, but Arthur Lurigio, a professor of criminal justice and psychology at Loyola University Chicago, called the escalating violence at the start of the year “alarming.”
“We have to go back decades to find jumps of this magnitude in year-to-year comparisons,” he said. “We’re on our way to 500 homicides again. We’re going backward.”
After an unrelated news conference Wednesday, new interim police Superintendent Eddie Johnson found an optimistic note in the recent slowing of the percentage increase in homicides. “If we can build on that momentum, we’ll be doing good,” he said.
Johnson said gang conflicts and the proliferation of guns continue to fuel the violence. The department also disclosed that more than half of the homicide victims so far this year had been targeted as likely gun violence victims or offenders in a novel program in which commanders try to persuade them to give up the gang life.
“We know who is committing these crimes. It’s a small segment of the population,” Johnson told the Tribune. “We have those individuals targeted. One of the things we have to do is ensure we hold those individuals accountable when they commit these crimes.”
The surge in violence comes at a tumultuous time for the Police Department. On Monday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel passed over the three finalists his hand-picked Police Board had chosen for police superintendent and instead plucked Johnson from the command staff for the post. In December, Emanuel had fired Garry McCarthy after 4 1/2 years in the job amid the public furor after the court-ordered release of a dashboard camera video showing a white Chicago police officer shoot Laquan McDonald 16 times, killing the black teen as he walked away from police with a knife in his hand.
The hardest hit of the Police Department’s 22 districts has been the West Side’s Harrison District, which includes the West Garfield Park, East Garfield Park and Humboldt Park community areas. Through Sunday, 21 people had been killed, more than triple from six a year earlier, statistics show. Shooting incidents have risen by similar numbers, to 111 from 40.
On Tuesday night, about 20 residents joined several police officers at 71st Street and Jeffery Boulevard in the South Side’s South Shore community in a show of solidarity in the fight against crime. The area isn’t as prone to gun violence as it once was, but it still has its flare-ups. The event drew mostly residents who appeared to be in their 40s, 50s or 60s, not the at-risk youths most affected by the violence.
Read the whole story here.