Dwyane Wade’s cousin Nykea Aldridge was just one of 89 people shot and killed in Chicago in August, the highest death rate we’ve seen in the past 20 years. Even worse? Chicago is extremely close to surpassing last year’s death toll with four months to go before the year’s end.
According to the Chicago Tribune, through the first eight months of 2016, there were 472 homicides, 150 more than a year earlier and just one shy of the total for all of 2014, official Police Department statistics confirm.
Clearly, Chicago’s gun violence rates have been at epidemic proportions for decades, but these new numbers have residents wondering what, if anything, can be done. Even the police claim to be frustrated about the current gun violence war in their city.
“These men and women are working their tails off out here,” Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson told the Chicago Tribune on Thursday. “And I’ll tell you this, it’s frustrating for them to arrest a guy on Friday for an illegal gun and then next Thursday they see this guy right back out on the street with another illegal gun,” he added.
But Johnson also stressed to the newspaper that not all is lost–the Chicago PD has seized 6,000 illegal guns this year so far.
And as the city embarks on Labor Day weekend, the police have upped their efforts with hundreds of police working overtime assigned to crime “hot spots” on the South and West sides and to other landmarks such as Navy Pier and McCormick Place, public housing, CTA train stations and parks, the Tribune pointed out.
But not everyone is satisfied with the response to the crippling violence that disproportionately affects people of color. According to USA Today, Rev. Jesse Jackson has called on President Obama to convene a summit on urban violence and visit his hometown more often.
“When (49) people were killed in Orlando, it got attention from the president and vice president,” said Jackson. “When Sandy Hook happened, there was a visit (from the president). When it happened in Colorado, there was a visit. We can’t get a visit. We need a plan to deal with the causes and cures (of the violence),” he added.
Activist Rev. Michael Pfleger stressed that this violence has given the city a sense of “hopelessness,” CNN reported.
“We have more murders here than New York City and Los Angeles together. And we’re lacking a strategy or plan to say how are we going to turn this around,” Pfleger said.
He also stressed that authorities need to address the tumultuous relationship that people of color and police have with one another and how systematic oppression fuels this violence.
“Never in my life in Chicago — and I’m raised in Chicago — have I seen the relationship between law enforcement and police and the community worse than it is right now,” he said.
“You see double-digit unemployment. You see poorly funded and under performing schools…. You see abandoned buildings and communities that look like third world countries. You see a proliferation of guns, no options or opportunities, no economic development” Pfleger added.
In the meantime, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner recently signed a new gun control bill that hands down stiffer penalties on anyone without a gun-owner identification card who brings a gun into the state intending to sell it, CNN noted. And Mayor Rahm Emanuel plans to hire hundreds of new police officers.
Let’s pray for Chicago everyone.