Chicago’s homicides are still on track for one of the deadliest years in recent memory after another bloody weekend in the city left at least 12 people dead and another 39 people wounded. Already this year Chicago has seen more than 520 homicides, which is about 150 more than the city had experienced this time last year. Currently, the city’s on pace to match the 795 homicides that took place in 2016, which was one of the highest homicide rates in decades.
The killings are being driven by drug and gang-related violence, but there are plenty of innocents who are being caught in the crossfire.
Two people were killed and four others, including a suspect, were wounded in a shootout Saturday in Austin on the West Side.
People at a gathering started arguing about 2:05 a.m. in the 100-block of North Pine Avenue when a male suspect unleashed gunfire into the crowd, Chicago police said. Another person returned fire, striking him in the abdomen.
A 47-year-old woman was shot in the face and chest and was pronounced dead at Stroger Hospital, police said. A 35-year-old man was shot in the chest and arm and was pronounced dead at the same hospital.
The Cook County medical examiner’s office hasn’t released details about their deaths.
A 32-year-old woman was shot in the leg and was taken to Stroger Hospital in good condition, police said. A 38-year-old man was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital in good condition with a gunshot wound to the back.
There was at least one other fatal shooting in the Austin neighborhood over the weekend. A 33-year old woman was found with a gunshot wound to the head on Saturday night just blocks from where the shootout that left two dead had taken place less than 24 hours earlier.
In a Chicago Tribune profile, columnist Dahleen Glanton describes the effects that months of COVID-19 closures, looting, and riots have had on another hard-hit neighborhood known as North Lawndale. As Glanton points out, the community was already suffering from decades of neglect dating back more than 50 years, but the past six months have made a bad situation even worse for residents.
The riots that broke out on the West Side after the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination transformed North Lawndale from a thriving epicenter of African American life to a barren wasteland.
Residents watched the exodus of the mostly Jewish-owned businesses after rioters destroyed their property along Roosevelt Road. And the community’s dream of prosperity left with them.
Over the course of a few days, Jeraldine Bowen, 93, saw the landscape of her vibrant neighborhood turn into an expansive stretch of burned-out buildings that eventually became vacant lots.
Bowen, who worked as a presser at a neighborhood dry cleaner, said she doesn’t understand the recent looting any more than she understood the riots 52 years ago.
“It’s stupid to destroy where you’re living,” said Bowen, who now lives in Austin. “I said to myself at the time, ‘They’re not rioting because of King getting killed. They don’t even know what the man stood for. He never would have approved of this type of behavior.’
“That’s the same way I look at it now. You looted the stores and cleaned everything out … and you don’t have one penny to build anything back.”
Is there any way we could get Jeraldine Bowen to run for mayor? It sounds like she’s got a better head on her shoulders than Lori Lightfoot, who appears to be unable to get a handle on the violence that’s taking too many lives and destroying too many neighborhoods in Chicago.
Of course, it’s not entirely up to Lightfoot. Cook County prosecutor Kim Foxx has been called out by the mayor for her light-on-crime approach that’s led to the dismissal of more than 25,000 felony cases since she took office, and now the Republican challenging Foxx in this year’s election for State’s Attorney is criticizing the recent decision to let 18-year old Sincere Williams, a suspect in a gun store burglary, off of electronic monitoring just days before he allegedly fatally stabbed Walgreens employee Olga Calderon as she was working in the store.
At an event on Sunday, Judge Pat O’Brien said Williams’ criminal history should have prevented him from being out on the streets.
O’Brien referenced a report from the Chicago Tribune, claiming that Williams’ was charged last May with a violent break-in and theft of guns from a suburban gun shop, but was released from electronic monitoring in that case just days before Calderon’s murder.
O’Brien said that decision to remove the monitoring device came with no objection from Foxx.
“They apparently thought it was a good idea to release this man into the community unsupervised. And this is not the only time that Ms. Foxx has failed to protect the community, the victims, and a victim like Ms. Calderon in specific,” O’Brien said.
Electing a Republican in Chicago may be an even tougher task than bringing down the city’s homicide rate, but voters will have a choice to make come November; stick with Foxx and her light-on-crime approach, or get serious about cracking down on the city’s most violent offenders. It’s literally a life-and-death decision, but something tells me party politics may still hold sway over public safety in the Windy City.