News and Commentary

Chicago Homicides Top 600, City Sees Highest Murder Rate In Five Years
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - AUGUST 10: A police officer stands guard following unrest on the city's westside moments before a derecho storm hits the area on August 10, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. The storm, with winds gusts close to 100 miles per hour, downed trees and power lines as it moved through the city and suburbs. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Scott Olson/Getty Images

After a bloody first weekend in October, Chicago’s murder rate is now the highest it’s been for half a decade, and despite slight declines month-over-month, the city has now seen more than 600 homicides — a 50% increase from 2019 according to figures from the Chicago Police Department.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that the city crossed the 600 homicide threshold last weekend after 53 people were shot and 5 were killed in a rash of city-wide violence. That’s a significant jump from the weekend before, where inclement weather kept many people at home, and only around 35 people were shot, though 5 people were killed.

“The CPD regularly posts statistics about crime in the city, both week to week and year to year. A look at recent stats shows that murder has risen in the city, doubling in the first week of October from the previous week with 15 murders, and the city is on track to hit around double the number of murders compared to 2019,” Fox News notes.

The Chicago Police Department is quick to point out that there were fewer homicides in September than in August, but the summer months tend to be the deadliest each year overall. The Chicago Tribune notes that murders peak in June, July, and August, and on weekend evenings, particularly when the weather is warm enough for people to gather outside.

According to local outlet Block Club Chicago, July 2020 was the single deadliest month the city has seen in 25 years.

“Chicago had 105 murders in July, more than double the 44 in July 2019, and 584 shooting victims is also up dramatically from the same period last year, with 308 reported in July 2019. July was the most violent month in 28 years,” the outlet noted.

The month was also marked by several particularly disturbing cases. “July’s largest incident happened July 21, when 15 people were shot outside a funeral home in Gresham,” Block Club notes. “The youngest victims in July include a baby shot on July 27 while riding in a car on the Bishop Ford Expressway in the Far South Side, a 3-year-old girl shot and seriously wounded in South Shore, and a 5-month-old baby shot and wounded in Old Town July 16.”

The summer of 2020 is also on track to be the deadliest summer since 2016 when Chicago was suffering through a massive gang war that left hundreds dead across the city’s south and west side neighborhoods. In 2016, the city saw 565 homicides over the same period.

CPD’s numbers do show that, while the number of homicides is still high, crime is on a downward trend overall. Sexual assault, burglary, and theft are all down by double digits over 2019.

Chicago isn’t alone in experiencing a spike in the murder rate. According to The Wall Street Journal, most major cities are seeing a similar rise in shootings and homicides, particularly in the months following coronavirus-related lockdowns, and in the weeks and months following massive, nationwide anti-racism protests sparked by the death of George Floyd while in the custody of the Minneapolis Police Department.

The FBI, though, which is working with Chicago as part of the Trump administration’s “Operation Legend” does say that Chicago’s murder rate is outpacing that of similar cities. “New FBI data shows that murders here in Chicago spiked by more than 37% compared with the same period of 2019, and far outpaces the 14.8% average increase nationwide,” Chicago’s ABC affiliate reported in September.

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