As of December 27th of this year, over 4,115 people have been shot, with 762 of those having lost their lives to violence in the city of Chicago, according to the Chicago Tribune. That’s an increase of over 55% over last year’s homicide rate of 491. This year’s remarkably high homicide count breaks from the downward trend enjoyed by the city from 2017-2019.
This year’s astronomical spike almost ties the highest homicide rate in Chicago’s recent 5-year history: 771 murders, during President Obama’s last year in office. Interestingly, except for the 2020 spike, amid calls for redistribution of police funds to social programs, homicide rates declined annually during President Trump’s first term.
So what has caused this 2020 spike in violence in the Windy City? It is difficult to attribute causation due to the unprecedented nature of the past 12 months. The largest increase in shootings occurred around June, shortly after George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis while in police custody. After Mr. Floyd’s tragic death, calls for the defunding of police departments dramatically increased throughout the country, while protests and violent riots sprung up across the country. These events are likely correlated, but causation is difficult to establish.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot of Chicago has gone on the record blaming the coronavirus for increased violence in her city. She has also attacked President Donald Trump, implying that he has unfairly targeted female mayors in his criticism of this summer’s violent riots in several metropolitan areas across the country. According to the Daily Caller, Lightfoot stated, “The president has been on a campaign now for some time against Democratic mayors across the country. Whether it’s me, whether it’s Keisha Lance Bottoms in Atlanta, whether it’s Muriel Bowser in Washington, D.C., whether it’s Jenny Durkan in Seattle – do you see a common theme here?”
Ironically, while advocating for the slashing of police budgets as crime skyrockets around her, Mayor Lightfoot made sure to secure her personal safety and property by recruiting the Chicago Police Department to keep protesters at bay.
Chicago’s mayor has laid the blame on several factors. However, she has failed to be introspective, considering how her city is still one of the most violent in the country despite having some of the strictest gun-ownership laws in the U.S.