It’s the 3rd week of January and already there have been well over 150 shooting in Chicago. The Chicago Tribune maintains and online database accessible to all showing the shootings by location and the statistics are alarming. The Austin area alone has had 21 shootings in the first 3 weeks of the year, the West Garfield Park area has had 18 already. These two areas alone had a combined total of 374 shooting victims in 2015.
The shootings are nothing new to Chicago residents. In fact last year in just one violent June weekend 5 people were killed and 33 wounded with a firearm.
This is a time when the police and community members should be able to come together and work on solutions to curb this violence. It’s hard for that to happen when tensions are running so high between residents and city officials, especially the officers sworn to protect them. A powder keg of emotions and spawning protests, demonstrations and resignations was sparked in November of 2015 when police dash cam footage was released of an officer shooting an unarmed teen 16 times execution style. Officer Jason Van Dyke has previously said in his reports that the teen, LaQuan McDonald, had lunged at him with a knife. His report was backed up by fellow officers and was the accepted official story until the video release.
The city, which was already crime ridden and out of control has not recovered from the subsequent fall out and possible police cover up of the shooting nor the disarray it left the city government in. As more details of the shooting death were revealed Police Superintendent Gary McCarthy was forced to resign. Chicago residents are still pushing for Mayor Rahm Emanuel to step down.
This week the Chicago Tribune is reporting that 23 officers and employees of the Chicago Police Department have been called to testify before the grand jury in the LaQuan McDonald shooting. As Chicago residents first line of defense crumbles gun crimes are running rampart. Just Monday night ( January 18th) a 34 year old man was shot during a dispute on a CTA Bus crowded with people. Thankfully he was the only one injured.
As the new year started a statement was issued by the Interim Police Superintendent, John Escalante. “In addition to building upon our public safety accomplishments, our focus for 2016 will be to restore the trust of the people of Chicago by being more transparent and continuing to work … to take a critical look at tour department to develop best-in-class policies and practices,” he said.
The city is in chaos. Chicago residents may as well have a target painted on their backs. The question is who to fear more, the overzealous trigger happy cops or the opportunistic criminals eager to capitalize on the breakdown of trust between police and the community. I guess we will just have to keep watching and hope peaceful order is restored sooner than later.