With two months still left to go, Chicago has passed its 2011 total of 435 homicides in what is shaping up to be a brutally violent year.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the death of Chicago Transit Authority driver Fitz Bariffe brought the count to 435 on Sunday. Three more killings the next day marked the first time since 2008 that the city’s homicide total hasn’t decreased from year to year.
The high number of murders has brought attention to the city throughout much of this year, sparking discussions on violence and gun control.
In an MTV interview last Friday, President Barack Obama said, “I live on the South Side of Chicago. Some of these murders are happening just a few blocks from where I live. I have friends whose family members have been killed.”
“What I know is that gun violence is part of the issue,” he continued. “But part of the issue also is kids who feel so little hope and think their prospects for the future are so small that their attitude is, ‘I’m going to end up in jail or dead.’ And they will take all kinds of risks.”
Between the day of his interview and Monday, there were nine fatal shootings in Chicago and at least another 14 were wounded by gunfire.
“It’s wild around here all the time,” one resident, who asked not to be named, told the newspaper. “That’s the nature of the beast. It’s sad, really.”
The Chicago Tribune reported that Mayor Rahm Emanuel called the rise in killings “not good,” but pointed out other statistics that show overall crime has dropped.
“We have other milestones,” he said. “One is overall crime is down 9 percent in the city, has seen the largest drop ever. Second, we’re tearing down the 200th building today where gangbangers and drug dealers hang out.”
Though the total of homicides is significantly lower than the 800-900 killings a year the city saw during th eearly to mid-1990s, Chicago still holds a higher rate compared to other cities. New York currently had 339 homicides through October 21 and Los Angeles’s count totaled 238 through October 20.
Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy has said the cause of the rise is due to the increase of guns on the streets and the division of gangs into smaller groups.
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