De­spite lock­down, no letup the mur­der rate in Chicago

56 mur­dered de­spite statewide stay-at-home or­ders

Kuwait Times - - Internatio­nal -

CHICAGO: The streets of Chicago may be largely empty as res­i­dents hun­ker down from coro­n­avirus but some of the city’s most deprived neigh­bor­hoods are still echo­ing to the sound of deadly gun­fire and rau­cous par­ty­ing. While sig­nif­i­cant falls in crime have been one of the few pos­i­tive side ef­fects of lock­downs in much of the United States and else­where, they have barely made a dent in the homi­cide rate in Chicago, a city that has long recorded the most mur­ders in the coun­try.

Chicago po­lice say 56 mur­ders were com­mit­ted in April de­spite statewide stay-at-home or­ders-only a frac­tion lower than the 61 for the same month in 2019 - while last week­end, the first of the new month, four peo­ple were killed and 46 oth­ers shot and wounded. New York by con­trast, a city with a pop­u­la­tion al­most three times that of Chicago, saw 31 homi­cides in April. Los An­ge­les, the se­cond big­gest city in the US, saw just 18 mur­ders over a four-week pe­riod from late March.

Twenty-one of the week­end’s vic­tims were shot in a seven-hour pe­riod from Satur­day night to Sun­day, in­clud­ing five teenagers wounded in a drive-by shoot­ing at a party on the city’s West Side. Re­ports said the shoot­ing came hours af­ter of­fi­cers en­forc­ing the statewide stay-at-home order broke up an­other party in the same block.

The West Side has some of the city’s most crimerid­den neigh­bor­hoods and hun­dreds of peo­ple filled the streets there overnight Satur­day into Sun­day as rev­el­ers par­tied in de­fi­ance of stay-at-home or­ders. Mayor Lori Light­foot had ear­lier warned any po­ten­tial par­ty­go­ers or hosts that they would face ar­rest. “We are not play­ing games,” the mayor said at a Satur­day news con­fer­ence. “We will shut you down, and if we need to, we will ar­rest you and take you to jail, pe­riod.” That didn’t stop crowds gath­er­ing on the streets to dance to loud mu­sic, with lit­tle sign of so­cial dis­tanc­ing or face masks.

‘Hor­ri­ble’ seg­re­ga­tion Video posted on so­cial me­dia showed par­ty­go­ers knock­ing back al­co­hol and danc­ing on cars as po­lice looked on. While of­fi­cers did break up the par­ties, no charges were brought. Chicago po­lice told AFP that they would not “spec­u­late whether or not vic­tims/of­fend­ers are abid­ing by the stay-at-home man­date.”

But Fa­ther Michael Pfleger, an ac­tivist priest who has worked in Chicago for more than 30 years, said re­spect for the au­thor­i­ties was lim­ited in the city’s poorer neigh­bor­hoods which have an over­whelm­ing con­cen­tra­tion of African-Amer­i­cans. “I think one of the rea­sons is that Chicago is more seg­re­gated than New York and LA,” Pfleger said. “Seg­re­ga­tion here is hor­ri­ble. You have seg­re­gated com­mu­ni­ties on the South and the West sides that you don’t have in

Mayor warns par­ty­go­ers and hosts

other cities. I also think that decades of ig­nor­ing these seg­re­gated com­mu­ni­ties hasn’t helped.”

Pfleger ar­gued that some­one who was pre­pared to com­mit mur­der was un­likely to be too both­ered about ob­serv­ing a stay-at-home order. Max Ka­pustin, se­nior re­search di­rec­tor at the Univer­sity of Chicago Crime Lab, said most of the shoot­ings and mur­ders have oc­curred out­doors and both shoot­ers and vic­tims have ig­nored stay-at-home or­ders. “We don’t know if there’s any­thing else re­lated to COVID-19 that may be ex­ac­er­bat­ing the is­sue,” he said.

CHICAGO: A man crosses a nearly empty State Street on March 21, 2020. — AFP

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