What the hell is going on in Chicago?

As I am sure most of you have read or seen on the news, this past weekend in Chicago was an absolute bloodbath of shootings, with over five dozen people shot, at least twelve of them dead.

I am honestly curious to to what is going on. Why is Chicago a Lethal Weapon movie? As compared to America’s other major cities it is bizarrely, disproportionately violent. Here are the 2015 murder rates (murders/100K persons) for the ten biggest cities in the USA:

New York City - 3.4
Los Angeles - 7.1
Chicago - 23.8
Houston - 13.3
Phoenix - 7.2
Philadelphia - 17.9
San Antonio - 6.4
San Diego - 2.6
Dallas - 10.4 (Fort Worth is 6.7)
San Jose - 2.9

I apologize for three year old numbers but they were the easiest to find and any recent year will be roughly the same.

Over 300 people have already been murdered in Chicago this year, well ahead of a pace to have more murders than last year’s 428, itself a staggering number.

What are the particular factors that make Chicago weirdly violent? There are other very violent cities - Oakland, DC, Newark for some reason, Milwaukee - but Chicago is a city I would have assumed would be more like New York, or even Toronto, a city I live close to and which reminds me of Chicago. (Toronto’s all time HIGHEST reliably measured murder rate was 3.9.)

“What are the particular factors that make Chicago weirdly violent?”

Endemic corruption at every level of government, business and religious institutions.

How many of those over 300 people were black?

The vast majority of the shootings are gang-related drug turf wars and other gang conflicts.

How many of the thousands of prohibition-related violence victims in NYC and Chicago during the 1920’s were white?

Here are statistics for 2017:

Note 527 black victims, 116 Hispanic victims, but only 20 white victims (also 15 unknown)

I do not understand how this answers my question.

My WAG as a non-Chicago-er: Demoralized, corrupt and/or ineffective police, a lot of gang wars, lots of guns available despite strict laws, and also that a city that is known for violence, tends to be a crime magnet and attract or feed violence (although some places, like LA and NY, have successfully turned the tide on such reputations).

What are the stats on Detroit…just curious?

It’s lack of organized gangs or more accurately, tons of them. What happened was that Chicago had a drug violence problem in the 90s. How they addressed it was to find the leaders of the various gangs and crack down on them hard. Then they would work their way down the hierarchy until they completely destroyed the gang. It worked great. Chicago doesn’t have huge controlling gangs like other cities with the exception of the Latin Kings who have managed to maintain their hierarchy. The problem was though that while they eliminated the leadership, the gangs still existed and it created a power vacuum. This led to the creation of all sorts of small turf gangs with small numbers of members that would sometimes only control a single block. They might be nominally affiliated with the Gangster Disciples or Vice Lords, but with no leadership they were left to themselves. It’s pretty easy to see the problem. Now instead of resolving differences by working with the leadership of the gang, they just kill each other. You have Gangster Disciples killing other Gangster Disciples because there is no hierarchy to keep them under control. You’ll have Bob and Joe at a party and Bob will say Joe is a douche and at one time, Boss Hogg would say, “Listen, you’re both Disciples, hug it out. Bob apologize.” and they would. Now, Joe comes back with ten of his friends that are their own mini-gang and shoots up the party. Basically, what we did was create an Iraq in Chicago. We exchanged one big, bad guy for a thousand bad guys and chaos breeds violence.

In the past 100 years, how often has Chicago had a homicide rate that was in line with most other large cities?

I suppose the question would then be why Chicago has more gangs/gang conflicts or why those conflicts result in more shootings than in other large cities.
I think it may have to do with Chicago’s raison d’être no longer being as strong as it was in the 19th and early 20th century. Back when most trade was intranational or with Canada, Chicago was great as a transportation/commerce hub between the Great Lakes, St-Lawrence river, the Atlantic and the railway web through the regions of the US. Now you’d more likely ship to/from the coasts or use the Panama canal instead. IOW: Chicago might be a large scale example of those decaying mining towns that used to be great but have been passed over by the world. It might be heading the same way as Detroit.

Whodathunkit? :rolleyes:

That’s good, because it’s not an answer, it’s a question.

And the answer is - because the people in charge of Chicago clearly don’t care about black gang members killing each other. I thought it was obvious.

Chicago is less violent than it was in the 90s.

Much of it is policing.
According to the Fraternal Order of Police the number of police detectives fell 25% from 2009-2016 as did the number of evidence technicians. The homicide clearance rate is around 30% which is awful, half of the national rate.
When Rahm Emmanuel was elected he promised more officers on the street so he disbanded anti-gang units and transferred them to beats.
After the Laquan McDonald there was a civil rights investigation into the police department that said they were too violent toward minorities. Because of this police had to start filling out a two page report instead of a checklist for every stop. This led to many fewer stops and many fewer subsequent arrests.

They’re not nearly as strict next door in Indiana, the primary source of Chicago guns.

Just one problem among many, yes, but one that can be addressed.

My understanding is there are 2 big factors in this problem.

  1. The police cracked down on the big gangs, arresting their leaders. This caused the gangs to splinter into a bunch of smaller gangs who went to war with each other.

  2. The city tore down the low income, high crime housing areas like Cabrini-green. The residents were then spread throughout the city. The goal was to hope that a middle class surrounding would reduce crime among the old residents, but what may have happened is now hardened criminals are spread all over the city and are starting up smaller gangs.

So basically those 2 things resulted in a large number of small gangs, rather than a small number of large gangs. And those small gangs are all fighting over territory.

Here is the last 30 years comparing Chicago to LA & NYC. Chicago is different.

There are a lot of ways to look at it. None of them explain 100% of the cause.

Another way, important but also not explaining 100% of the cause: Chicago WAS a front line in the war against drugs. The war is long over; the drug dealers sacrificed some and lost some battles, but in the end they have truly won the war. Now what?

The police in Chicago are helpless. Police in other countries are not helpless. Hmmmm. Maybe there’s a difference. Maybe there’s something that could be learned.

Nope, I guess not. Oh well.

I live in the Chicago area, and wind up reading a lot about the problem.

From what I can tell, as several posters have already noted, the primary issues seem to be:

  • The fragmented / balkanized street gang issue, stemming from the leaders of the old gangs being put away in the 1990s
  • Lots of guns available (yes, Chicago has stringent gun laws, but most of the guns used in these shootings are coming from outside of the city)
  • Issues with policing in the neighborhoods where many of the shootings are occurring

For those of you who don’t live here, and just hear about “more shootings in Chicago”: most areas of the city are, in fact, very safe. However, in the neighborhoods where the shootings are concentrated, it’s a massive issue, and I can’t even begin to comprehend how unnerving it must be to live in a neighborhood where shootings are a frequent occurrence.

That’s true, but it’s disingenuous to pretend that was in a vacuum. Violent crime rates everywhere were absolutely atrocious in the 90s. What happened is that every (not every obviously, but majority) other city in the country saw massive decreases in crime and Chicago saw some decreases up until the early 2000s then it leveled and increased, right around the time they started arresting major gang leaders.