Chicago homicides are up 52% this year, with a majority of victims being people of color, officials said.
The Cook County Medical Examiner's Office recently announced that Chicago has recorded more homicides so far this year than in all of 2019 and that the majority of the victims — 95% — are people of color.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, mass layoffs, and nationwide unrest, Chicago — as well as other cities across the U.S. — has seen an uptick in violent crimes this summer. With much of the violence happening in a handful of neighborhoods on the city's South and West sides, Chicago accounts for most of the deaths in Cook County.
According to police data, murders and shootings are up 52% and multiple children under 10 years old have been shot. Fifteen people were shot at a funeral on the city's South Side, resulting in the largest mass shooting in the city's recent memory.
"Facing illnesses, facing deaths, facing also the higher rates of unemployment and loss of income in our communities has also, unfortunately, played a role in the levels of violence we've seen throughout the year," said Katya Nuques, executive director of a community organization in the predominately Latino Little Village neighborhood. "The pandemic really has highlighted the vulnerabilities our communities already faced."
Violence interrupter Demeatreas Whatley said that his community feels "on edge" this year due to bars and lounges closing earlier than usual due to COVID-19 regulations. As a result, people are congregating on blocks late at night, which makes them easier targets for retaliatory shootings, where bystanders have been caught in the crossfire.
According to Police Superintendent David Brown, Chicago police have recovered more than 7,400 guns so far this year, which is more than police recovered in New York and Los Angeles combined. Brown also said that 55 police officers have been shot at this year, with 10 actually hit.
"There's not a comparable year. That's five times any previous year anyone can recall," he said. "We're risking everything."