Anton Watson, center, with other children, parents and teachers at a Chicago peace vigil held amid a rising number of killings. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Almost every time we talk to someone who doesn’t live in Chicago, one of the first things we hear is something pertaining to our infamous homicide rate. This isn’t surprising as it’s getting a lot of play nationally. Whether it’s in political circles or mainstream news, it’s often one of the leading stories about Chicago.
We recently read a startling synopsis by the New York Times that looks at the homicide problem and how it’s amazingly afflicting the South and West side’s of Chicago (including this stark graphic):
The shooting, on Nov. 26, was one more jarring reminder of just how common killings seem to have grown on the streets of Chicago, the nation’s third-largest city, where 506 homicides were reported in 2012, a 16 percent increase over the year before, even as the number of killings remained relatively steady or dropped in some cities, including New York.
But the overall rise in killings here blurs another truth: the homicides, most of which the authorities described as gang-against-gang shootings, have not been spread evenly across this city. Instead, they have mostly taken place in neighborhoods west and south of Chicago’s gleaming downtown towers.
Already, 2013 began with three gun homicides on New Year’s Day, two of them on the South Side. Like other cities, Chicago has long been a segregated place, richer and whiter on the North Side, and the city’s troubling increase in killings has accentuated a longstanding divide.
And while homicides are soaring, surprisingly crime is down:
Over all, crime in Chicago dropped 9 percent in 2012 from the year before in what city officials say was the largest decrease in 30 years. Among crimes that saw dips last year: rape, robbery and car theft. With the city’s longtime gangs splintering into factions and increasing problems with retaliatory violence, homicides rose suddenly in the first three months of the year — running some 60 percent ahead of the year earlier — creating a pace that slowed significantly as the year went on.
While a drop in crime is good, the headlines rightfully continue to focus on our homicide problem…something new has to be done to curb this!