Though many Chicagoans may have simply hoped for a white Christmas, what the city received was a bloody one.
The Chicago Police Department reported over 27 shooting incidents over the holiday weekend, with twelve fatalities. Over the course of three days, 53 people were shot.
Anthony Guglielmi, a CPD spokesman, stated that many of the weekend’s shootings happened in neighborhoods “with historical gang conflicts.” Many of the outbreaks of violence were directed at gang rivals as they gathered with family and friends for the holidays; others were carried out shortly after that, in retaliation.
The 2016 calendar year has been especially deadly for the city of Chicago. With the current homicide tally near 750, Chicago’s shooting deaths have surpassed those of the past twenty years. The total number of shooting victims—a whopping 4,252—is up nearly fifty percent from the same time last year. And most of those shootings have sadly similar circumstances: almost all the victims were men, the majority of them under thirty years old.
Sometimes, the cold weather experienced during Chicago’s winters acts as a deterrent to violence. This year, the city has not been so lucky. During a news briefing this past Monday, Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said most of the shootings and deaths occurred in the South and West sides of Chicago—areas with a history of gang-related violence. “These were deliberate and planned shootings by one gang against another,” Johnson stated. “They were targeted knowing fully well that individuals would be at the homes of family and friends celebrating the holidays. This was followed by several acts of retaliation.”
On Christmas night, an incident occurred in which a man opened fire on partygoers on a porch in East Chatham, then ran away. Five people were wounded; two brothers, aged 18 and 21, were killed. CPD is not reporting a related arrest. On Christmas Day alone, seven people were murdered—that number is greater than the previous three years combined. (2015 saw three people killed, 2014 saw one murder, and 2013 tallied two shooting deaths.)
According to Superintendent Johnson, ninety percent of the weekend’s homicide victims had a criminal history, gang affiliation, and had previously been identified as either potential violent offenders, or gun violence victims. In addition to the shootings, Chicago police seized forty-five guns.
In Monday’s news briefing, Johnson implored Chicago to enact more stringent gun laws—explicitly, stricter sentences for repeat violent offenders. According to him, the recent public criticism of Chicago police has bolstered the confidence of criminals.
“When they feel the public will speak out for them and not the police officers, that’s giving them the power to go out and do what they did.”
The deadliest month thus far for Chicago was August, reported the Chicago Tribune, with a total of 96 recorded homicides. 2016 draws to a close as a very challenging year for many Americans, but the Christmas weekend deaths in the city of Chicago put a particular tragic emphasis on things.
Chicago’s recent struggles with gang violence have drawn the attention of many outside the city, and dramatically impacted the lives of its citizens. Experts point to a number of contributing factors, and as the death toll reaches dramatic heights, the city’s efforts to curb the bloodshed seem to be ineffective.
Chicago’s embattled law enforcement have been subject to budget cuts from Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, and low numbers within their ranks. Retiring officers and the city’s inability to pay for replacement have left thousands of vacant positions. This comes at a time when the city needs its police force more than ever, plagued by gang violence the like of which has not been seen since the drug wars of the 1990s.
Mayor Emmanuel has promised to hire more officers to support the city’s waning force, but there are other issues to tackle as well. A lack of public trust in the police has emerged after many incidents of use of excessive force, brutality, and corruption. This lack of confidence is hugely detrimental to law enforcement’s ability to solve and prevent violent crimes. When the public does not believe cops act in their best interest, it’s easy for their fear of violent retaliation to outweigh a desire to give testimony which might help solve crimes and close murder cases.
Chicago’s history of corruption is famous. According to top defense and civil rights attorney Michael Schmiege, Chicago, “resembles a real-life Gotham.” The city has struggled to clear its ranks of dirty, bribe-taking alderman and politicians. And running city institutions where the public good is never as important as individual gains and power is a recipe for absolute ineffectiveness. As recently as this past Wednesday, a Chicago alderman and former police officer, Willie Cochran, was indicted on federal corruption charges.
Chicago’s gangs have an equally long history. The tommy-gun-wielding gangster persona of the 1920s and 30s has given way to modern gun violence fueled by drug and turf wars, with racial undertones. Some of today’s gangs have their roots in the Civil Rights movement but have lost their messages of justice in the ocean of viciousness.
There seems to be no easy answer for Chicago’s heartbreaking predicaments. The public, police, and city officials are inextricably linked, yet frequently at odds, and everyone suffers. The intense violence over the Christmas day weekend highlighted a year of wild violence and tragedy.
Mister Schmiege understands that in a sea of corruption and confusion, Chicago needs someone to stand for individual citizens. He represents defendants on gun and other violence-related charges with the knowledge and experience that every citizen deserves—and is constitutionally entitled to.
If you’ve been accused of a gang crime, or are under investigation by law enforcement for weapons possession charges, violent crime, or other alleged misconduct, you need the best defense lawyer in Chicago on your side in the courtroom. Don’t let the prosecution intimidate you. Mister Schmiege takes a stand against Chicago corruption, fighting for your constitutional rights. Contact his law office today for a free consultation.