Chicago’s 2016 Death Toll Reaches 500

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Chicago’s 2016 Death Toll Reaches 500

Photo courtesy of the Chicago Tribune

Photo courtesy of the Chicago Tribune

Photo courtesy of the Chicago Tribune

Photo courtesy of the Chicago Tribune

Elizabeth Porter

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2016 has been a particularly deadly year for Chicago. Over Labor Day weekend the city suffered its 500th homicide victim this year. This brings the total higher than it has been in two decades. In August alone, the city suffered an astounding 92 homicides, translating to an average of three deaths per day. The Chicago Tribune reports that 13 people lost their lives over Labor Day weekend alone. Labor Day was the deadliest weekend of the summer. Still, over 4th of July weekend, 66 were shot and 5 died and over Memorial Day weekend, 69 were shot and 6 died.

Unfortunately, violence in Chicago seems to be perpetually on the rise. In 2015 there were 481 homicides in Chicago and 2016 shows signs that the total will likely exceed 600. New York and Los Angeles have a combined total of 409 homicide deaths this year according to police records, far fewer than Chicago’s staggering number. Chicago is not alone, however, as Milwaukee and Memphis have also experienced increased murders rates in 2016.

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson blames the recent surge in killings on weak gun laws and increased gang activity. He also called for harsher sentencing for repeat violent offenders to keep dangerous individuals off the streets. According to a University Of Chicago Analysis of 2015 murders, approximately 40% of those arrested for homicide had a previous arrest for a gun-related crime.
Johnson also acknowledges deeply rooted societal issues as a cause of the violence as well. The vast majority of victims are from communities on the west and south sides of Chicago; historically these areas are predominantly African American and have high levels of poverty. NBC News reported Johnson’s statement after Labor Day weekend, “Impoverished neighborhoods and people without hope do these kinds of things. You show me a man that doesn’t have hope, I’ll show you one that’s willing to pick up a gun and do anything with it.”