CHICAGO, IL – Chicago has certainly lived up to its reputation as one of America’s most violent cities recently, doing nothing to change that trend.
At least 17 people were shot in Chicago from Monday night into Tuesday morning, with four dead. This comes following a bloody Fourth of July which saw at least 70 wounded and 17 killed, all by gun violence.
According to data compiled by the Chicago Tribune, three of the shootings resulted in three or more being wounded, with six people being shot in just one incident.
The shootings come after a string of violent weekends in the city that have left younger children killed and injured. Gun violence in Chicago spiked Memorial Day weekend and has remained high, including a violent Fourth of July weekend as has been mentioned.
As of the end of the holiday weekend Monday morning, more than 1,800 people had been shot in Chicago, about 500 more than by the same time last year, according to the Chicago Tribune’s data.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot and some other city officials have been quick to blame the coronavirus pandemic, the shutdowns and the virus’ impact on the economy for increasing gun violence. They also point to ongoing division stemming from the death of George Floyd as a possible factor.
Robert Clark, a former FBI agent assigned to Chicago gangs, now working as a senior superintendent for the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service, disagrees.
“The root causes of gangs globally are grounded in the same concepts — fractured society, disenfranchisement with all of societies resources and infrastructures, such as education, jobs, family structure, single-parent homes, cyclical crime, and crime influences, poor housing and health care, poor education and education preparation,” he told Fox News.
Clark continued to say:
“And a lack of sufficient, effective and sustained community programming, as well as trust in the community programs. Crime leaders, organized crime, gangs, and otherwise, are focused on making money.”
Other analysts also stress that the root of Chicago’s gun violence is the city’s failure to control its vast and ever-expanding web of gangs.
In 2012, Robert Tracy, the head of the Chicago Police Department’s Office of Crime Control Strategies, claimed that there are at least 60 gangs splitting into roughly 600 wings.
A Chicago Police study of the 436 murders a year prior found that most of the victims were young Black males killed in gang-related disturbances, noting that “most victims and their killers had a prior history of an arrest.”
Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown, in a press conference late last month, blamed the “open-air drug markets” as the “pipeline to shootings and murders in Chicago,” which had been exacerbated by coronavirus challenges in addition to “low bonds for violent offenders.”
“They hire young kids that don’t have any significant criminal history to be on these corners selling drugs for them and holding the guns and protect them until they sell their allotment of drugs and turn it back over to these evil b——-,” Brown said.
“They do that because these young people don’t have significant criminal histories, and they’re young, so when we arrest and clear the corner, they’re in jail and out of jail.”
This isn’t the only time in recent memory that Brown has seemed to display a sense of frustration with the courts.
“We cannot expect community members to turn criminals over to the police if they know that our criminal justice system will return most of those criminals right back to the street,” he wrote in an op-ed published in the Chicago Tribune.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) made their voice heard in the matter, attributing some of Chicago’s continued street mayhem to the gangs’ affiliations with drug cartels south of the border.
A 2017 Joint Intelligence report suggested that the murder rate in Chicago is worsened by “steady supply of drugs from Mexican drug cartels, most notably the Sinaloa Cartel.”
“Illicit drugs flow from Mexico to Chicago via a loosely associated network of profit-driven intermediaries, with Chicago street gangs serving as the primary distributors at the street level,” the report stated.
“The profits earned through drug trafficking increase the staying power of both street gangs and drug trafficking organizations (DTOs), thereby influencing levels of violent crime in both the United States and Mexico.”
“Although gang membership is difficult to pinpoint, local authorities estimate that there are over 100,000 active gang members in the Chicago metropolitan area,” the report maintained.
“Collectively, Chicago street gangs serve as the primary mid-level, and retail-level distributors of drugs in the city and are responsible for a significant portion of the city’s violent crime.”
This gang violence comes at a time where a segment of the population continues calls to defund the police, with some cities such as New York and Los Angeles, following suit. Chicago’s top-brass have so far resisted such proposals.
“Curbing violence in Chicago is not simply a police problem or a situation for them to resolve alone,” Clark added. “We have the solutions, and we have the resources, we just need to create the political will to implement and use what is necessary to curb the social ills of crime.”
And as if Chicago wasn’t experiencing enough catastrophes and creating elements of worry lately, residents of the area can now add concerns over those on home monitoring not having tabs kept on them.
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart spoke of the enormous amount of people placed on various versions of home arrest and monitoring since COVID concerns became the impetus to having those on electronic monitoring up by 1,000 detainees.
Some are saying the reason for the increase in Chicago violence is because violent offenders are out on electronic monitoring systems and no one is keeping tabs on them. https://t.co/BNepM5Cfit
— FOX 32 News (@fox32news) July 8, 2020
The sheriff explained that he has roughly 150 people right now that are supposed to be keeping an eye on approximately 3,300 detainees placed on home confinement. According to Sheriff Dart, he’s been having to choose between monitoring home-detainees or patrolling the streets at times:
“We need more people to monitor on the street, and we have been unable to get the people to do that.”
Chicago Police Department Chief Fred Waller recently noted that he believes one of the elements attributed to Chicago’s increase in violent crime is the amount of home-confinements dished out during the pandemic:
“When you have that many people, the judges have to recognize the sheriff’s department is not equipped to handle that many people on electronic monitoring.”
What’s most alarming in all this home monitoring is that a majority of those placed on said type of “confinement” are currently facing the likes of gun charges. Not to mention, there are reportedly 43 individuals being electronically monitored from their homes awaiting trial on murders.
Sheriff Dart feels as though that COVID or not, those with the likes of gun charges should be getting held in custody and not placed on home confinement:
“Home monitoring just as a general idea is not a program for people charged with gun offenses. They need to be held in custody.”
Gal Pissetzky, a criminal defense attorney, acknowledges that judges may be putting too many people on electronic monitoring, but feels as though those on said program aren’t responsible for the city’s increased violence:
“I don’t think that the people that are on electronic monitor at home are causing the violence in Chicago.”
Others in the city, such as Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, have different theories about what has caused violence to increase lately.
People often say a broken clock is right twice a day, and it appears Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot hit the nail on the head with her take on what has been the major contributing factors to increases in violence within Chicago.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot blamed the bloody month of June on a "perfect storm" of frustration with the pandemic shutdown and anger at George Floyd’s killing, heightening tension in violent neighborhoods plagued by open-air drug dealing. https://t.co/jfcUqi9LFm
— FOX 32 News (@fox32news) July 2, 2020
Data shows that murders in Chicago jumped up by about 80% within the past month, while arrests dropped by about 50%.
When Mayor Lightfoot was asked about what could have contributed to such a disastrous period within the city of Chicago, she described it as being representative of a “perfect storm.”
What was this perfect storm, one might ask? Well, according to the city mayor, it was a culmination of the COVID shutdowns, the death of George Floyd, and increased tensions on neighborhoods notorious for the drug trade.
Mayor Lightfoot went into detail with regard to the drug trade and the violence that surrounds said exploits:
“What these drug enterprises are doing is this. These spots, they can earn $30,000 to $50,000 a day. They’re extraordinarily lucrative, which is why they’re willing to fight to the death to keep those spots.”
When you take into consideration a distracted police force in conjunction with high-profile hubs for the drug trade, it’s understandable why violence may increase in certain areas.
— John Kass (@John_Kass) July 2, 2020
Police Superintendent David Brown noted that recent attempts at thwarting the criminal drug trade haven’t been fruitful, but the police force is invigored to continue their efforts.
John Catanzara, who serves as the local Fraternal Order of Police’s president, cited that one aspect contributing to a decline in arrests is that police are in fear of losing their jobs for simply making proper arrests:
“When the top official in this city is blaming the police for everything that’s wrong, to hide their inefficiencies and inadequacies, it definitely makes people stop and wonder, ‘what am I doing? Am I going home? Am I going to have a job tomorrow? Am I going to be in jail next week?’”
Mayor Lightfoot proclaims that the union is exaggerating with regard to their cited concerns of officers being scared to perform their normal duties:
“You’re going to hear a lot of noise from the FOP. That’s part of the game. But I’m focused on making sure that we get wins at the bargaining table for the residents of this city.”
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