The recent spike of the homicide rate in the city of Chicago has left mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago police enforcement scrambling to find the cause of this rapid increase.
According to the Huffington Post, from Jan. 1 through late May there were 203 homicides, 69 more murders than in the same span last year. In Englewood, a 20-by-20 block neighborhood located on Chicago’s south side, homicides leaped from 40 in 2010 to 60 last year.
These death tolls for this one neighborhood alone nearly tripled the amount of homicides in Seattle, Washington, which had 21 murders last year. In fact, the total number of homicides in Washington, D.C., Milwaukee, and Cleveland each barely doubled the total in Englewood.
So what has caused such an increase? Some would say that actions taken by both Mayor Emanuel and Gov. Pat Quinn to arrest and convict local gang leaders have left gangs “splintered,” and as a result violence has ensued.
Devon Tims, a Chicago native and member of the Vice Lords street gang, spoke about how the arrests have affected the recent surge in violence: “There is no one to control this, so it has become haywire.”
Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy has admitted that capturing the leaders of larger gangs has almost doubled the number of smaller gangs, and as a result a turf war ensues. “These kids have guns and they end up using them,” he said.
Commander Leo Schmitz was more forthright with his description, saying, “If we see a car with three of (one gang’s) guys three block over there (on another gang’s turf), they are probably going to shoot someone.”
The gentrification of the city’s urban neighborhoods has also played a major role in the increase in homicides. The demolition of its historic housing projects all over the city scattered thousands of gang members to other parts of the city, often into rival gang territories.
As a result, Mayor Emanuel and CPD have deployed dozens of specialized undercover officers to units on Chicago’s South and West sides while blanketing certain neighborhoods with more uniformed cops.
While residents welcome any action taken to combat the number of homicides, some like 80-year-old Homer Wright are skeptical things will change. “People don’t give a damn, they just shoot you across the street, they come into your house and shoot you.”