With three months yet to go in the year, Chicago already has 400 recorded murders this year as of Friday, marking a 25 percent increase over last year’s numbers. The 400 victims, most of whom have been young men of color who died at the hands of guns, is nearly double the 253 Americans who have been killed in combat in Afghanistan this year.
Yet, there has been little national outrage about the largely black-on-black crime even in a presidential election year that features an incumbent African-American president from Chicago.
Chicago officials have lauded the decreased number of murders since the summer, but expect the year’s final tally to reach 500 for the first time in years.
City activists say the onslaught has to stop.
Nearly 200 people took to the streets Sunday in an anti-violence rally led by Bishop Larry Trotter of Sweet Holy Spirit Church. Trotter told the Associated Press he has presided over four recent funerals of teenagers in the city.
“The city has gone wild,” he said. “It’s no longer just gang killing – it’s random killing. We have to try and channel that energy and put it in another direction.”
Sunday’s rally followed the death of 17-year-old Derrick Davis who was fatally shot Friday just a block from where he lived in Chicago.
The pastor’s call to end the violence echoed by numerous other public officials, religious leaders and musicians in recent months.
Trotter and his congregation paced through city streets, chanting, “Stop the violence. Increase the peace. No more killing. Save our children.”
Last week, Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy touted a September murder rate that was down 30 percent after an abnormally violent start to the year, according to CBS Chicago. McCarthy also said shootings have been on the decline for five consecutive months.
The ongoing gun violence has become a central theme throughout Chicago.
“This is an issue that impacts everybody,” Jessica Malkin, Chicago Ideas Week director, told CBS.
“Regardless of what neighborhood you’re living in, it’s a huge issue in Chicago.”
While the number of homicides in Chicago is lower than its historic highs in the early 1990s, there has been a recent spike, especially in some impoverished neighborhoods.
Chicago has averaged roughly 450 homicides a year since 2005, dramatically lower from the approximately 900 homicides the city recorded annually in the early 1990s.
Marcher Donella Braxton, 47, hoped the march will help bring an end to the violence and cause the whole city to unite.
“It’s not just one community being impacted by the violence, it’s all of our communities,” she said.