What's happening in Chicago
December 29, 2016 7:12 AM   Subscribe

 
Of course, most of them are people of color from the south side, so those areas actually have even higher levels of violence while the north side and/ or richer, whiter areas have very little. So if you're living in a place where there's violence, it's even worse than the raw numbers make it look.

Also, everyone in the media will talk about "gang members" as if "gang members" were a different species and "gangs" came here from another planet instead of being entirely predictable social formations. "Gang violence" is "violence by and upon young people", and if we thought of it that way instead of othering the people involved, it might motivate people to solve some problems.

It's not that violent people and violent places are not scary. My neighborhood in MPLS has been one of the most violent areas in the city at various times, and there was a murder in the house next door back in the nineties. One of my friends was just almost a victim of a mugging at gunpoint - basically it was badly planned by the muggers, she called for help and they ran off. Sometimes I get anxious and wish I lived somewhere else, actually. I'm not trying to say that violent situations aren't scary and dangerous. It's more that the idea that "they" commit the violence does not seem to map well to the lived experience of neighborhoods where there is violence. People commit violence, and you can find it very surprising just who that is and why it happens, as I have discovered over the years.
posted by Frowner at 7:24 AM on December 29, 2016 [53 favorites]


A lot of reporting keeps focusing on the 750 figure rather than the per capita rate, which is high but still not at the top of the list.* Percentage-wise, it's a ~41% increase over last year, which again seems high, but what about Phoenix, with its ~54% increase? Or Louisville (~52%), Fort Wayne (100%), or Austin (115%)?

Chicago has a serious problem with gun violence, just like almost all major American cities. But I think it's getting singled out in large part because Donald Trump made it a talking point during the election, often by doing this very thing: pointing to a big scary number and purposefully ignoring wider context.

* Even if you exclude St. Louis, which really shouldn't be compared directly to other cities.
posted by jedicus at 7:25 AM on December 29, 2016 [22 favorites]


Either way, it's an entire generation of kids growing up with trauma. That doesn't stop once the violence stops (if that were even possible). It echoes through their lives.

Goddammit.
posted by schadenfrau at 7:27 AM on December 29, 2016 [13 favorites]


It was explained to me once that gangs are a political construct because they occur when children and young adults are left directionless because their family unit is dysfunctional and they're searching for a place to belong and create their own families. That the reason the family is dysfunctional is because low income parents in order to meet the cost of living work over time and more than one job, and often the family is split because of issues caused by lack of money or another parent in jail. That in order to fix the dysfunctional family the minimum wage needs to be brought up to meet the cost of living. But that politicians avoid that because then they have bodies for the profit prisons and corporations using inmate labor (effectively a slave labor class), the working class remain so exhausted and busy they don't fight the system, and the violence allows politicians to point to it and say - look! You need us to save you from that. Then push through laws that disenfranchise the working class further while pushing power imbalances.

If Chicago really wanted to respond to their violence problem, they would first work on their poverty problem.
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 7:40 AM on December 29, 2016 [173 favorites]


If Chicago really wanted to respond to their violence problem, they would first work on their poverty problem.

This. So much this.
posted by RolandOfEld at 7:47 AM on December 29, 2016 [10 favorites]


In keeping with the blue/red gap in our nation, Trump supporters are fond of pointing to Chicago and other cities with problems as examples of places run by Democrats, ignoring, of course, that in so many of our states, the GOP is in control, and, at the national level, we have no serious national gun controls. But to suggest that Chicago needs to get jobs for the youth of the inner city, is to ignore the national nature of the problem. Even the minimum wage, in most places, will not be raised under the incoming president, so there is little hope in sight but instead a continuing blame put upon minorities and Democratic mayors.
posted by Postroad at 7:49 AM on December 29, 2016 [8 favorites]


A weird gripe: this actually seems kind of thin. That is - this is pretty terrible news, and is something that we as a society need to work on fixing. But the articles don’t offer much more than the raw number and percentage increase, with a minimal amount of speculation about the problem. The map in the third link is quite pretty, but at first blush is (unsurprisingly) correlated with the general “map of bad things in Chicago”. So it isn’t exactly revealing of something surprising and new. It’s -at best- a story of things getting worse because nothing has continued to happen, but right now it seems to be a number and some notes on that number.

jedicus: Chicago has a serious problem with gun violence, just like almost all major American cities. But I think it's getting singled out in large part because Donald Trump made it a talking point during the election, often by doing this very thing: pointing to a big scary number and purposefully ignoring wider context.

Before that, I’d argue - Spike Lee made Chiraq last year, and that particular phrase had been around for years before then. Heck, back when I listened to This American Life more regularly, it seems like they’d do stories on gang violence in Chicago pretty regularly. Everyone likes to think about the horrors of the South and West side. This is another problem, perhaps. A 58% spike is gigantic, but if the image you’ve had of the South Side is already of a gangland hellscape, telling me that horror is worse this time around doesn’t resonate as much. Heck, I had to go through the article twice for the number to even pop out at me, and it still feels like a difference in degree, not a difference in kind.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:52 AM on December 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


I guess what I just keep thinking is that "gang members" could easily be "kids from my neighborhood", and they're just kids. I feel like a problem for even the best and most well-intentioned outside analysis is that it's difficult for a person to get the texture of a situation, where at the same time someone might be a person who carries a gun and can be pretty dangerous and also be someone's child/best friend/parent and also be a really good artist and be, I don't know, super into weird socks.

Also, I feel like these kids have so little freedom to fail. Like, many people from richer backgrounds can screw up in school or be terrible employees or be rude or fighty or whatever in their teens and early twenties and the negative consequences are small. Whereas there's so little freedom to just be kind of a teen if you're poor, and people judge you so hard.
posted by Frowner at 7:55 AM on December 29, 2016 [42 favorites]


As far as I'm concerned, the preoccupation with crime in Chicago is exceedingly close to 100% due to it being the most recent home of our black president. That's it, really. Here's the top 30 per-capita murder list; note which city isn't on the list. (There is Harvey and Chicago Heights, both suburbs of Chicago; there's also East Chicago and Gary, both in Indiana, not that those will be attributed to, say, Mike Pence.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:00 AM on December 29, 2016 [55 favorites]


I was thinking yesterday how I have been so appalled by gun violence which permeates all aspects of society now, although it certainly disproportionately impacts urban black neighborhoods, and I felt like that was an issue to work on - getting rid of the guns - and now with Trump it feels completely impossible. It's a reminder for me there are so many aspects of the US that Trump is going to crush and destroy that I can't even think of them all, and we'll have to keep discovering them one horrible thing at a time. I live in a city with an enormous number of poor kids who get killed and disabled by guns every year, the numbers have gone down because of displacement of poor people to the suburbs, but it's still completely disproportionate and horrifying. And now with any kind of gun control even further off the table, and schools certain to be gutted even further, and automation of the few jobs available to poor people, I feel without hope.
posted by latkes at 8:02 AM on December 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


I thought it was well understood that 'gang-members' meant people who like hip hop. Y'know, those people.
posted by adept256 at 8:06 AM on December 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


Here is (almost verbatim) a conversation I have had with my grandmother dozens of times:

G - Chicago is SO dangerous, I see on the news, people get shot every day up there, how do you live up there?
Me - Everywhere is dangerous. Look at a per capita crime map--you have the same rate of gun violence where you live as Chicago does.
G - Oh don't I know it, crime is terrible.
Me - Then why are you picking on Chicago?
G - [pause] Didn't you use to live two blocks from that Obama house?
posted by phunniemee at 8:07 AM on December 29, 2016 [43 favorites]


As far as I'm concerned, the preoccupation with crime in Chicago is exceedingly close to 100% due to it being the most recent home of our black president. That's it, really.

I accidentally read an anti-Obama book a few years back ("The Amateur", maybe? I won't bother looking for it -- it was a Regnery book, I was bored, yaddada yaddada), and it had one of those sections in the middle with all the pictures, because it was shoddy and cheap, and one of the pictures was of Al Capone. For literally no reason other than to illustrate that Obama comes from Chicago, and that's what you get when you elect someone from Chicago.
posted by Etrigan at 8:08 AM on December 29, 2016 [9 favorites]


I had a student worker who was shot and died in Chicago about five years ago now. "Gun violence in Chicago" makes me think of Tyrone. He was a smart kid, worked hard, came in on time. He was nice and used his break time to work on his homework for class. He went back to Chicago for a school break and that was that. I think of him huddled under a staircase, or behind a stack of garbage cans in the street, crying and bleeding out. My heart weeps. Seven hundred and fifty Tyrones.

.
posted by sockermom at 8:12 AM on December 29, 2016 [40 favorites]


My youngest child is adopted, and his biological family live right smack-dab in the most dangerous neighborhood of Chicago (based on crime statistics and shootings). To people saying this story is only getting traction because of Trump or Obama, I will say that I've been following the state of things in Chicago for close to a decade now, and increasing gun violence has been a story for a long time. Other factors may have taken it nationwide, but the Chicago Tribune has been writing about it for years, for instance tracking shootings. You can see at that Chicago Tribune link that there have been 4320 shootings in 2016, versus 2989 in 2015, so there's not nothing to this story. In any context, that's a huge year-to-year increase, and worth looking into, even if it's also bad in other cities, or if there are other cities where gun violence is worse per capita.
posted by Orlop at 8:14 AM on December 29, 2016 [12 favorites]


No stable family, no jobs, no future, no hope, no chance.
posted by Beholder at 8:21 AM on December 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


Tougher law enforcement is the solution, because it presses on both ends of the homicide demand curve: the benefit of the criminal turf hoped to be acquired or defended, and increases the risk of being caught. Doesn't need to be swaggering husky white dudes with badges rolling through the Southside, can just as easily be comprehensive surveillance systems monitored by skinny dudes in data centers in India and the Philippines.

That we may see national concealed reciprocity within months may be helpful as it will remove gun control on law abiding people from the dialog, where it is so tempting and distracting.
posted by MattD at 8:24 AM on December 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


One of the saddest things in all of this is how many victims are just collateral damage. People are just trying to live their lives in a war zone pretty much.

A lot of reporting keeps focusing on the 750 figure rather than the per capita rate, which is high but still not at the top of the list.* Percentage-wise, it's a ~41% increase over last year, which again seems high, but what about Phoenix, with its ~54% increase? Or Louisville (~52%), Fort Wayne (100%), or Austin (115%)?

I think the trend you are talking about is really interesting and something that should be investigated.

However, Austin is an incredibly safe and is routinely ranked one of the safest cities in the country. In 2015, they had 24 murders in a city of almost a million people. In 2016 that jumped to 35 as of November, from what I can tell the city will probably end up around 40 murders. So yeah, that is a big jump %-wise, but I think it's really insensitive to bring up Austin as an example when the murder rate for Chicago is at least 5x Austin's.

Also, in doing this research, it looks like lots of cities are seeing a spike in the murder rate this year. Something bigger must be going on.
posted by LizBoBiz at 8:25 AM on December 29, 2016 [5 favorites]


Doesn't need to be swaggering husky white dudes with badges rolling through the Southside, can just as easily be comprehensive surveillance systems monitored by skinny dudes in data centers in India and the Philippines.

Just out of curiosity, who do you expect the skinny dudes in data centers are going to tell what they find?
posted by Etrigan at 8:26 AM on December 29, 2016 [16 favorites]



Tougher law enforcement is the solution,


Are you saying the law enforcement in Chicago isn't tough enough?
posted by drezdn at 8:26 AM on December 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


Are you saying the law enforcement in Chicago isn't tough enough?

My guess is that the issue isn't toughness, but police presence in the "dangerous" neighborhoods at all.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:30 AM on December 29, 2016


> That we may see national concealed reciprocity within months may be helpful as it will remove gun control on law abiding people from the dialog, where it is so tempting and distracting.

If Thorstein Veblen were still around and letting off steam as an internet troll, or just parodying one, this is the kind of comment I'd expect to see from him.
posted by bunbury at 8:32 AM on December 29, 2016 [12 favorites]


One of the problems in Chicago is that people committing these crimes are not getting caught.

Witnesses won't talk for fear of retaliation giving law enforcement very little to work with.

In cases of innocents getting killed the cops literally have to shut down entire neighborhoods with heightened presence to hinder the drug trade in the neighborhood until the gangs get frustrated enough to offer a perpetrator.

Nearly 70% of these crimes go unsolved. On a related note, 90% of the people killed last weekend were on a list of high probability suspects to either perpetrate or be victims of shootings. The cops KNOW who many of these actors are but cannot just take them off the streets. There are laws.
posted by Max Power at 8:33 AM on December 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


That we may see national concealed reciprocity within months may be helpful as it will remove gun control on law abiding people from the dialog ...

Removing gun control from the conversation helps nothing. People are getting shot! With what? sling-shots? crossbows? cameras? Actually they're being shot with guns. Oh well, it's not helpful to talk about that.
posted by adept256 at 8:39 AM on December 29, 2016 [7 favorites]


Removing gun control from the conversation helps nothing. People are getting shot! With what? sling-shots? crossbows? cameras? Actually they're being shot with guns. Oh well, it's not helpful to talk about that.

I believe that was just a "good guy with a gun" riff.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:47 AM on December 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


You know, you can do a lot with really tough enforcement - lots of horrible, oppressive regimes have been able to create very safe neighborhoods. But then, of course, you have to have really tough enforcement. Lotta fellows would say that we might create a more desirable society if we worked on the "hm, actually dealing illegal substances, getting hassled by the cops and risking death isn't actually that fulfilling, perhaps I shall pursue one of the many other non-miserable opportunities available to me" side of the equation.

From a jobs creation standpoint, you can create cop jobs and jailer jobs or you can create teacher/infrastructure-building/social services/merchant jobs. Cop jobs and jailer jobs go over bigger with the great American public but are not, perhaps, the most useful kind of job to create.
posted by Frowner at 8:48 AM on December 29, 2016 [14 favorites]


Tougher law enforcement is the solution

It absolutely is not! Do you know how we know this? Science.

Not sure if you all are familiar with Cure Violence, but it is a movement of public health experts whose work is based on the observation that violence spreads exactly like disease. It is contagious, it is worse in certain environments with certain characteristics, and changing those environments drastically reduces "incidence" of the disease. You can fight violence the way you fight the flu-- with prevention, and with safeguards in place when precipitating factors are on the rise.

Interestingly, the Cure Violence program began in Chicago, and made great inroads there in previous years (2000-2015). Also "interestingly", the city recently cut funding to the program. Those cuts coincide with recent spikes in violence. It's extremely reminiscent of the way Mike Pence decided to "treat" HIV in Indiana by cutting all programs to prevent it. HIV skyrocketed immediately, and the devastating effects are still being felt.

The same thing is happening in Chicago, because things were getting better, but they decided making things better cost too much.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 8:56 AM on December 29, 2016 [86 favorites]


My guess is that the issue isn't toughness, but police presence in the "dangerous" neighborhoods at all.

>Witnesses won't talk for fear of retaliation giving law enforcement very little to work with.


At the last ward meeting I went to (which was fully in Spanish so I only caught about 60% of it, but still enough to know what was going on) the two biggest topics of conversation were police presence and shoddy garbage pickup.

There were a lot of complaints from residents who call the police but have to wait and wait for a response, or call the police and have officers dismiss them or don't believe them. One woman told a story about a recent 911 call that ended with her teenage son in handcuffs because the English-speaking officer didn't understand that she was calling about her son being attacked until a bilingual neighbor stepped in. There was a lot of talk about how the police are never around when the neighborhood needs them but how there always seem to be plenty of cops at the dunkin donuts on the corner. We had a rep there from the local police district who was supposed to answer those questions and concerns, but he spent an awful lot of time being patronizing and telling them they don't understand how being a policeman works.

It's not just witnesses who are afraid to talk (which there are plenty, sure) but also that the police are not doing their jobs for the people who need them. And heck, we are in a predominantly minority neighborhood just a highway crossing away from where Laquan McDonald was murdered. I often worry about calling the police for fear that some poor kid will get killed by a trigger-happy jackboot. There are a lot of layers here; "tougher law enforcement" isn't some magical incantation that solves the problem.
posted by phunniemee at 8:56 AM on December 29, 2016 [42 favorites]


And now with any kind of gun control even further off the table,

I mean, this isn't comforting to /me/, because I don't support increased gun control, but it might comfort /you/ to know that the general belief among serious gun advocates is that Trump is actually pretty likely to increase, not decrease gun control. It's always easier to increase gun control when Republicans are all in charge - see Reagan - because they don't reflexively fight it. It's one reason serious gun advocates tend to prefer divided houses.
posted by corb at 8:57 AM on December 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


Here's a chart that shows how immediately gutting the Chicago Cure Violence program turned into an increase in violence.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 8:59 AM on December 29, 2016 [16 favorites]


NRA-endorsed Donald Trump was the only candidate actually calling for confiscation of guns (after "randomly" frisking people on the street) in so many words.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:02 AM on December 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


Meanwhile New York is on track for a record low rate of shootings and homicides this year. Without stop and frisk.

Thanks DeBlasio! (And gentrification.)
posted by spitbull at 9:08 AM on December 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


I think the interesting thing is the longer context. 750 homicides a year would have been nothing remarkable through most of the seventies, eighties, and nineties. From 1999 the rate fell and from 2004 it stayed consistently lower, often below 500. Now it's back up there, apparently. Any theory must explain what was different during 2004-15. Longstanding or constant features of the city can't account for it.
posted by Segundus at 9:10 AM on December 29, 2016 [8 favorites]


Trump's unpredictable to be sure ... but national CC was a plank of his platform, is supported by virtually every flavor of Republican in Congress, can count on some red state Democrats in the Senate to boot, is a literally free gift he can give to his most important voters (a map of the hardest swinging precincts in the swing states is pretty much a map of gun enthusiasm), is actually (once again for free) something he can deliver to strengthen Republicans Republicans in rural and exurban California and New York. You wouldn't rank it low on the list of promises to be fulfilled.
posted by MattD at 9:13 AM on December 29, 2016


In New Orleans, the Mayor ran on a platform of ending gun violence--there is now a"Comprehensive Murder Reduction strategy" that includes many tactics that people are suggesting here. It seems to be working, but also not solving the problem. The problem is racism, I would suggest. These kids are criminalized by society, for merely breathing, and then we expect them to act like angels.

Many of these tactics would normally be part of a poverty reduction program, but there's additional counseling and such. individual counseling as well as group intervention.

In New Orleans, this isn't referred to as a "gang" problem, it's a "dispossessed young black man" problem (which is mostly a "racism" problem, but it's politically incorrect to say that racism goes that deep).

I can't help but think this whole talk about "gangs" is mostly racism clouding people's minds. If people play basketball together, are they a "gang"?

A local minister who runs a gun buyback program impressed upon me the need for the FBI to track the source of every gun used in a murder. His point was (mostly) that the FBI doesn't give a shit about black people, or how they die, because if they did, there would be a national program to track these weapons.

But together we were able to push the paper to do an investigation that did find that most guns that kill (young black men in certain neighborhoods) are stolen (from all neighborhoods in the city).

So, if you own guns, Please lock them away in a safes, bolted to your house. If the USA were a sensible country, locking down your guns would be required by law. But we are a nation run by the Farm Bureau and the NRA.
posted by eustatic at 9:16 AM on December 29, 2016 [10 favorites]


As far as I'm concerned, the preoccupation with crime in Chicago is exceedingly close to 100% due to it being the most recent home of our black president. That's it, really.

I definitely saw this happening in internet forums. It was baffling until I put it together. The Chicago Tribune may have been covering it, but it only became a national preoccupation since Obama. At Christmas dinner my right-wing brother said that 95% of gunshot murders in the US happen in Chicago (he was quickly shut down).

Interestingly, the Cure Violence program began in Chicago, and made great inroads there in previous years (2000-2015). Also "interestingly", the city recently cut funding to the program.

A good friend from college has been a trauma surgeon at a Chicago hospital for many years. She would see several gunshot cases everyday. She told me the same thing - the Cure Violence program was working, and they took it away.
posted by maggiemaggie at 9:19 AM on December 29, 2016 [19 favorites]


Interestingly, the Cure Violence program began in Chicago, and made great inroads there in previous years (2000-2015). Also "interestingly", the city recently cut funding to the program.

The funding was a casualty of a budget battle at the state level, I believe.
posted by Going To Maine at 9:31 AM on December 29, 2016 [6 favorites]


I can't help but think this whole talk about "gangs" is mostly racism clouding people's minds. If people play basketball together, are they a "gang"?

I don't disagree that this language allows some to blithely write off large swaths of the population as "deserving it," but at the same time, the modern-day gang structure in Chicago is a real thing and a major source of tension and ultimately violence. I recommend this article:

Bored, Broke, and Armed: Clues to Chicago's Gang Violence (NYT)

And for more on the human cost, I can't recommend this (by the Tribune's Mary Schmich) enough:

Tavon Tanner, a bullet, and what happened on the streets of Chicago (Tribune)
posted by ndg at 9:35 AM on December 29, 2016 [8 favorites]


The funding was a casualty of a budget battle at the state level, I believe.

Yes, I misspoke-- thanks for the correction.

An incredibly detailed breakdown of how quickly funding cuts make a difference can be found in this document: "The Relationship between the Cure Violence Model and Citywide Increases and Decreases in Killings in Chicago (2000-2016)"
posted by a fiendish thingy at 9:35 AM on December 29, 2016 [9 favorites]


Chicago is a global city: Fortune 500 headquarters, world class cultural and scientific institutions, BIG, very large swaths of the city that are safe and prosperous, to say nothing of the suburbs. It makes far more sense to compare it to Los Angeles and New York (or Houston -- just as global if less cool) than to compare it to Detroit, St. Louis, or Baltimore, to say the least of errors of political geography and housing policy like Gary or Camden.
posted by MattD at 9:35 AM on December 29, 2016


Chicago police are ignoring some neighborhoods and avoiding situations as their protest of the Black Lives Matter movement. They talk about it on the execrable anonymous chat site Second City Cop. I won't link to it because it is openly racist bile. Cops are staying in their cars and doing as little as possible in neighborhoods they deem nonredeemable. I am thru the west side a lot and the change is noticeable, I watch to see times and places of shooting and made the decision last year to not bike to work anymore as my route is rife with trouble. It sucks.

Chicago's Most Dangerous Block Plagued By Drugs, Shootings And Murder
Right near this block is a beautiful mural of Fred Hampton, and a few blocks east on Monroe is the place where he was openly assassinated by police. I do a lot of 'what if' thinking about what could have been had people had a strong leader with vision who was allowed to live through his twenties.
posted by readery at 9:39 AM on December 29, 2016 [17 favorites]


This is the same Chicago where police officers kidnap and torture people - And we wonder why there is gun violence? They that sow the wind shall reap the whirlwind....
posted by SyraCarol at 9:39 AM on December 29, 2016 [6 favorites]



This is the same Chicago where police officers kidnap and torture people - And we wonder why there is gun violence? They that sow the wind shall reap the whirlwind....

Corruption in police departments isn't unique to Chicago. And, of course, the people being killed in these shootings aren't the ones doing the torturing. The quote, while poetic, is inapt.
posted by Going To Maine at 9:43 AM on December 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


Chicago police are ignoring some neighborhoods and avoiding situations as their protest of the Black Lives Matter movement. They talk about it on the execrable anonymous chat site Second City Cop. I won't link to it because it is openly racist bile.

Is there any not horrible site with info on that? That sounds insanely horrible. It's like the "search and avoid" missions that shitty soldiers did in Iraq, but worse.
posted by corb at 9:54 AM on December 29, 2016


Is there any not horrible site with info on that?
Nothing, really. but the clearance numbers on all criminal investigations have fallen, especially murder. There's an ongoing problem with both manpower and lack of community involvement, i.e. no witness statements. People don't want to come forward because cops will not protect them.
There was some talk of how retribution has become so run of the mill that the the murderers of a man who was set to testify against a drug kingpin would not even have been caught but for the fact that the murder happened in a suburb in front of the man's house.

It is a mess. Friends of my daughter are moving out of the building that's been in their family for 50 years. Gunshots have become commonplace and the place that they walked to school from is not safe enough for their own children.
posted by readery at 10:10 AM on December 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


It has become dangerous enough that more than a fifth of Chicago’s 652 public schools have Safe Passage routes to help children travel safely.

Safe Passage has been around since 2009, and was expanded in 2013 to its current size -- well before the spike in shootings. This year it was extended to include many public parks to help protect kids during the summer as well.

I point this out just to make it clear that while gun violence caused Safe Passage to be enacted, it wasn't this year's gun violence.
posted by me3dia at 10:11 AM on December 29, 2016 [8 favorites]


The cops KNOW who many of these actors are but cannot just take them off the streets. There are laws.

I was going to say; aren't these the same cops who have a black site for detention and torture? I don't think that the narrative that the cops would be able to nail these guys but they're constrained by LAW is an accurate one. Seems more like the cops just don't give a shit about violence in those areas. Or what phunniemee said.
posted by Existential Dread at 10:13 AM on December 29, 2016 [13 favorites]


My, admittedly much smaller, hometown had a major crime problem in the late 80s/early 90s and one of the things they did was put small police substations in high crime areas all over town. The idea being a local, familiar and quick to respond presence would be more effective. I don't have any documents to back up it's effectiveness and there were obviously other factors that led to the city's turnaround (a major college moving into the downtown core and the for one). You could probably argue that the crime was just pushed to surrounding areas but a few years ago the city was considering shutting down one of the substations in a historically black neighborhood and the locals fought to keep it open. We've still got the reputation we earned in those years but as someone who's live here the entire time, it really feels like the city has rebounded.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 11:59 AM on December 29, 2016


As far as I'm concerned, the preoccupation with crime in Chicago is exceedingly close to 100% due to it being the most recent home of our black president. That's it, really.

I mean, a number of public figures from Chicago have called attention to it, and I think a lot of the concern is related to the increase in murders in a short period of time, as well as the astonishing absolute number of people killed. It is true that the rate is still substantially lower than the sustained murder rate in a quite a few smaller U.S. cities.
posted by atoxyl at 12:05 PM on December 29, 2016


Also as Frowner already pointed out the segregation of the city and of the violence arguably makes the population-rate comparison misleading.
posted by atoxyl at 12:16 PM on December 29, 2016


I think these sorts of stories are racism by proxy. Urban violence overall is way down over the last 25 years. Yes, you can find locations that have moved in the other direction.

I've run some of the numbers on the states where violent crime has gone down, (in this post from 1992 to 2013) and Illinois ranked third best as a state for decreasing violent crime.

Where violent crime has increased? 1) North Dakota. 2) Montana. 3) South Dakota. 4) New Hampshire. 5) West Virginia.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 12:33 PM on December 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


Been hearing from folks in Rockford, IL, where I used to live, that it's getting really bad there. In fact, it's more violent than Chicago, as are 4 other Illinois cities, according to the FBI.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 12:38 PM on December 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


Oh, and for what it's worth, violent crime rates have improved under Obama. He's had the second best record out of the last ten presidents.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 12:47 PM on December 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


Its 100% racism. No one gives a shit about the west and south sides. Wait until some of this violence bleeds into the newly gentrified near west and south sides and affect some people of non-color and property values and you will have the national guard called in. Its so fucked up. Basic segregation and everyone knows it.
posted by repoman at 12:51 PM on December 29, 2016 [8 favorites]


Now that he has executive experience, could Obama return to Chicago after his daughters graduate from high school and run for mayor?
posted by Apocryphon at 1:04 PM on December 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


repoman basically said what I've been writing and re-writing in this little comment box, trying to find the right way to say it.

The article posted by ngd above, I have no words. Tavon was a student of a friend of mine, and I met him (and the rest of his class) just a couple of weeks before that happened. I'm so happy that article was written, and honestly more like that need to be.

A friend of mine was shot almost exactly 4 years ago now. He has a scar much like Tavon's. I was often mistaken for hospital staff when visiting him in the hospital, because why else would a white woman be there?

It's a purely theoretical problem for so many people and traumatic reality for so many more. It's not fair.
posted by jeweled accumulation at 1:25 PM on December 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


What's continually amazing to me is that Chicago's population is still almost a million under its peak even after 25 years of urban resurgence. New York is well above its previous peak, and Los Angeles never lost population. But Chicago is still hollowed out. It's weird. Is it the crime? The weather?

I mean, lots of other cities are well below their peak populations as well, but Chicago is the center of the Midwest and is a legit big city, important to the entire nation, in a way that, say, Baltimore, or, hell, even Philadelphia, aren't.

I don't get it.
posted by Automocar at 1:27 PM on December 29, 2016


Chicago's (population) peak coincided with high levels of heavy industry and commodity employment that is just gone. Other factors: corporate America since WWII has been willing to go Denver and California when looking for "western" headquarters, and when looking for centrally-located headquarters has preferred Dallas and Houston, and post 1965 immigrants never took much of a cotton to it. Which is not to say that Chicago isn't still important, just not as important in a quantitative sense as it once was.
posted by MattD at 1:35 PM on December 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


I think these sorts of stories are racism by proxy. Urban violence overall is way down over the last 25 years. Yes, you can find locations that have moved in the other direction.

They are used in support of racism but there are also plenty of stories told by Black Chicagoans about the tragedies occurring in their communities. One's perception of this issue may depend on which kind of story you've been hearing but I think some people in this thread may be unintentionally dismissive of the latter in their response to the former.
posted by atoxyl at 1:47 PM on December 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


This is partly a consequence of defunding CeaseFire, one of the few anti-gun-violence programs that actually works.

It's easy to forget from the comfortable distance of a legislature that budget battles are literally life or death affairs for some.
posted by Ndwright at 2:31 PM on December 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


. . .Ceasefire, also known as Cure Violence which is mentioned above.
posted by Ndwright at 3:03 PM on December 29, 2016


It was explained to me once that gangs are a political construct because they occur when children and young adults are left directionless because their family unit is dysfunctional and they're searching for a place to belong and create their own families.

A telling point is that the gang label is only applied to minorities. White gangs are called organized crime. In Chicago's not so distant past they were called 'clubs' and 'neighborhood athletic associations' and were instrumental in triggering the largest race riots in Chicago history while enforcing neighborhood racial purity. Da Mayor was a member.


Also when looking at this years crime statistics don't discount the contribution from the Chicago Police deliberately engaging in an informal work slowdown this year to protest a negotiated documentation requirement for police stops (CPD was making racist and unconstitutional stops until the ACLU sued ) and probably also as a show of force to tell the mayor to back off on police prosecution and reform.
posted by srboisvert at 3:10 PM on December 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


Chicago also allows murderers to roam free because the CPD will clear homicide cases without convictions based on the belief that they know who did it but can't prove it. So they talk about their 'clearance rate' which is higher than their conviction rate because it is a slightly less disturbing number (like in the thirty percent range rather than the low teens). How many people are being shot by serial killers? When 80% or more of murders get away with it year after year then you end up with a lot of murderers walking the street.
posted by srboisvert at 3:22 PM on December 29, 2016


That we may see national concealed reciprocity within months may be helpful as it will remove gun control on law abiding people from the dialog, where it is so tempting and distracting.

Actually, pretty much all available evidence points to lack of gun control reciprocity as being a major issue, i.e. the lax gun laws of surrounding jurisdictions and states are the crux of the problem. The NYT has a pretty easy explainer here, but if you visit NIH/CDC you'll find much in the same. Of course, the gun lobby is constantly fighting to defund and suppress gun control research, so who knows when stuff like this might end up down the memory hole.

Anyway, concealed carry is hasn't done squat to reduce gun violence, and in some cases can make it worse. Reciprocity was Trump's promise to get the NRA on his side. Seeing as how the NRA is a white supremacist organization these days, and with 2A advocates completely silent on that front, nobody should be cheering it on. We should especially avoid talking it up as a solution for crime in majority-PoC areas, because that's the not-so-subtle implication of Trump's plan.

In other words, this "solution" is far more likely to be the problem, expanding it will not solve oand may even worsen the problem, and Trump's use of it is racially-coded.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:14 PM on December 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


A telling point is that the gang label is only applied to minorities.

I guess I live in a different bubble, one that contains, the Aryan Brotherhood, Peckerwoods Midwest, the Aryan Circle, etc. plus the Hells Angels, Sons of Silence, and the Outlaws etc. One freaky development in the last 10 years is the Iron Order Nation, it acts like one of the big 4 outlaw motorcycle gangs but its members are mostly cops and jailers with a few firemen and paramedics.
posted by ridgerunner at 5:05 PM on December 29, 2016


Yeah and there certainly is a history of white/euro immigrant "street gangs" that were known as such - but something totally mysteriously happened that made their popularity fade - wonder what that could have been...
posted by atoxyl at 5:43 PM on December 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


Now that he has executive experience, could Obama return to Chicago after his daughters graduate from high school and run for mayor?

Oh wait, it was literally a movie.
posted by Apocryphon at 7:00 PM on December 29, 2016


I've never seen a major city so segregated as my hometown of Chicago. When they took down the projects it was supposed to solve a bunch of this. My heart breaks for the victims and those who love them.


FWIW, Chicago still is economically a very powerful city.
posted by persona au gratin at 2:58 AM on December 30, 2016


I think these sorts of stories are racism by proxy. Urban violence overall is way down over the last 25 years.

I agree, although it's more complicated in some cities (as Atoxyl pointed out).

I suspect that a contributing factor to urban violence being down is the re-urbanification of certain cities, "rehabilitation" of a lot of city centers, and the aforementioned segregation. In DC and in the Bay Area, for example, gentrification combined with gung-ho overdevelopment have pushed a lot of poor people out of the city and into sprawling exurbs. So crime goes down in the city proper, but suburban crime goes way up. Violent crime is generally correlative with poverty.
posted by aspersioncast at 10:03 PM on December 31, 2016 [3 favorites]


« Older A steam train chugs and tootles through the...   |   ugly rotten mean punk scum Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments