Coming off the heels of Chicago’s most deadly year since 1996 (783 dead and 4,368 shot), the city’s residents and law enforcement have no doubt been braced for a continuation of the uptick in violence – and the first month of 2017 is approaching last January’s homicide totals. According to the Chicago Tribune, this month has seen 39 homicide victims so far, compared with 57 in the same month last year. There is still one week left, and another spate of shootings this weekend shows that the violence does not seem to be tapering off.
The Tribune reported that 29 shootings, three of them fatal, occurred in the city over the period of 24 hours from Saturday into Sunday. That report included remarks from a West Town area resident that “It’s not even summer yet and it’s only gonna get worse,” and that he was considering buying a bulletproof vest for personal safety. The resident was referencing the yearly increase in violent crime Chicago typically sees during the dog days of summer, especially over holiday weekends. But this was just another weekend in January – unseasonably warm, yes, but still midwinter. Shootings will most likely spike in July and August as usual but seeing this many shootings early on is not a good sign. No one is in custody related to any of the shooting incidents reported by the Tribune, which involved victims ranging from a 15-year-old boy to a 47-year-old man.
The statistics are troubling, and there seems to be no end in sight or practical solutions from city and national leaders. Then President-elect Donald Trump tweeted references to Chicago’s violence before his inauguration, and may choose to focus federal attention on the city, although details on any of his potential plans remain scarce. And what changes, if any, the Chicago Police Department may make to their policies and practices on the streets this year remain to be seen. For now, though, the crime continues and (according to HeyJackass!) someone will be shot every 2 hours and 24 minutes on average, and murdered every 13 hours and 15 minutes. Of course, weekends like this skew those numbers and some days may see no deaths at all, but the fact remains that the violence is constant and can explode at any time, as seen over the past day.
Update: The Tribune ran a piece Monday that found homicides and shootings to officially surpass last January’s total, as of the morning of Jan. 23; 228 people have been shot with “at least” 42 homicides so far this month. The piece also highlighted increased violence over the New Year and Martin Luther King, Jr. Day holiday weekends, as well as the past several days.