As Covid-19 restrictions lift in Chicago, city must contend with uptick in violent crime


Businesses in Chicago are beginning to bounce back from the economic toll of the coronavirus pandemic, but the city is far from the light at the end of the tunnel as it continues to be plagued by a growing crime wave. 

On Saturday, a 31-year-old woman was stabbed to death while walking through the Loop neighborhood around 4pm. Police are still searching for the suspect, who fled on foot immediately after stabbing the woman in her lower back. 

Chicago Police Department Superintendent David Brown said that the suspect was most likely a homeless person because the stabbing occurred near multiple homeless camps. It has not been revealed if the woman had any connection to the man who stabbed her.

Last Tuesday, a mass shooting left four people dead and four seriously injured in Chicago’s Southside. Denise Mathis, 32, Rantanya Rogers, 28, Blake Lee, 34, and Shermetria Williams, 19, were killed in the home early Tuesday morning. 

Police later said that the crimes were carried out by two gunmen who shot all but one of the victims in the head execution-style. Citing a preliminary report, Chicago police spokesman Steve Rusanov said that someone broke into the home some time before 5.40am on Tuesday and started shooting.

Later that day, four people were wounded and one was left in critical condition after a gunman opened fire in West Garfield Park, Fox 32 reported. This marked the city’s fourth mass shooting within a week.

A 31-year-old woman was stabbed to death in the Loop Saturday afternoon, according to police

Police are still searching for the suspect, who fled on foot immediately after stabbing the woman in her lower back

Police are still searching for the suspect, who fled on foot immediately after stabbing the woman in her lower back

Chicago Police Department Superintendent David Brown said that the suspect was most likely a homeless person because the stabbing occurred near multiple homeless camps

Chicago Police Department Superintendent David Brown said that the suspect was most likely a homeless person because the stabbing occurred near multiple homeless camps

Denise Mathis, 32, Rantanya Rogers, 28, Blake Lee, 34, and Shermetria Williams, 19, were killed in last Tuesday's shooting in Chicago's Englewood neighborhood. The victims are pictured above from left to right

Denise Mathis, 32, Rantanya Rogers, 28, Blake Lee, 34, and Shermetria Williams, 19, were killed in last Tuesday’s shooting in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood. The victims are pictured above from left to right

All of the victims in last Tuesday's Englewood shooting had been shot in the head, as had three of the victims who survived, with the other surviving victim shot in the back

All of the victims in last Tuesday’s Englewood shooting had been shot in the head, as had three of the victims who survived, with the other surviving victim shot in the back

Friends and family are mourning the loss of the victims, who had gotten together for a birthday party in the home

Friends and family are mourning the loss of the victims, who had gotten together for a birthday party in the home 

There were 300 homicides in Chicago between January 1 and June 18, 2021, which is a 6 percent increase from the 283 homicides reported over same period in 2020, according to the city’s Violence Reduction Dashboard.

In the same duration, there was an approximate 19 percent increase in shootings with 1,710 reported in 2021 as opposed to 1,432 reported in 2020.

The Violence Reduction Dashboard also breaks down shootings by sex, age and race, reporting that black men between 20 and 29 are the most affected. 

‘Even though Chicago is split almost evenly among its black, Latinx, and white populations, violence in Chicago disproportionately impacts people of color,’ it reads. ‘In 2020, 65 percent of victims of homicides or non-fatal shootings were black and 12 percent were Latinx.’

The city launched its Violence Reduction Dashboard last month, in conjunction with the University of Chicago Crime Lab, to support Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s community-based violence reduction efforts.

The Mayor's Office Violence Reduction Dashboard shares real-time data on violence trends in Chicago

The Mayor’s Office Violence Reduction Dashboard shares real-time data on violence trends in Chicago

The Violence Reduction Dashboard also breaks down shootings by sex, age and race, reporting that black men between 20 and 29 are the most affected

The Violence Reduction Dashboard also breaks down shootings by sex, age and race, reporting that black men between 20 and 29 are the most affected

‘With the Violence Reduction Dashboard, we will be able to create a more level playing field for our community organizations and residents as we work together to both understand the levels of violence in their neighborhoods and respond quickly and holistically to changing trends,’ Lightfoot said in a news release ahead of its launch.

The dashboard shows that the greatest uptick in crime is seen in the number of carjacking incidents, which increased by roughly 57 percent, from 525 cases in 2020 to 826 cases in 2021.

The data reveals that mostly teenagers are involved in the carjacking cases, which the Chicago Tribune reported is a direct result from the impact the pandemic has had on already impoverished Chicago communities and youth mental health. According to the article, teenagers have spent the pandemic in a ‘pressure cooker of trauma, violence and isolation.’

Chicago is also experiencing crime in areas that had generally been considered safe like the Magnificent Mile commercial district and tony Oak Street, where last August rapper FBG Duck was shot dead in broad daylight.

‘I’ve never felt more unsafe than I do now,’ Steve Burrows, a 48-year-old attorney and lifelong Chicago resident said. ‘I work downtown so I’m here every day during the day but I won’t come down here at night or on the weekend.’

Violent crimes, such as homicide and aggravated assault, jumped four percent since the start of the year, according to the latest crime statistic released in beginning of May and reported by The Chicago Sun Times.

A Chicago police spokesman wrote in a statement to the Chiacgo Tribune that police are using ‘data-driven prevention and enforcement’ to prepare for the usually more violent summer months.

‘This includes deploying resources to areas experiencing unacceptable levels of violence, working alongside other City agencies as part of our crime fighting strategy and conducting multiple tabletop exercises as part of this citywide coordination,’ reads the statement.

After last Tuesday’s shooting, Mayor Lori Lightfoot called for more federal assistance to help curb the spike in illegal guns coming into the city. However, she remained optimistic and said, ‘The reality is our city is safe. I stand by that.’

Carlson said Lightfoot (pictured) 'blames firearms and demands more money from the federal government' in response to the city's crime wave

Carlson said Lightfoot (pictured) ‘blames firearms and demands more money from the federal government’ in response to the city’s crime wave

Lightfoot has drawn the ire of a number of leaders in Chicago, who claim that she isn’t doing enough to combat the surge in crime. Last month, Chicago’s Fraternal Order of Police unanimously voted that they have ‘no confidence’ in her leadership.

Lightfoot, who concurrently made headlines for refusing to do one-on-one interviews with white journalists, said: ‘Getting a vote of no confidence from that guy is a badge of honor, and I accept it.’

The Windy City’s police union President John Catanzara previously said the main reason for Wednesday’s no-confidence vote is officer burnout. Catanzara said the department’s move from 8.5-hour shifts to 12-hour shifts in preparation for unrest and cancelled days off created poor working conditions. The long hours have created mental health problems for some officers, problems at home because the spouse is left to raise the kids on their own. They have also triggered alcoholism in some officers, as well as a lack of morale, he said.

Nevertheless, the uptick in crime isn’t unique to Chicago as cities throughout the country are combatting similar surges in shootings and other illegal activity. On Friday, NYPD leaders have promised to put more boots on the ground in New York City amid a 64 percent spike in shootings.

Ahead of the announcement, former NYPD commissioner Bill Bratton warned that American cities are in for a ‘very, long dangerous summer’ as murder rates skyrocket nationwide. Nationwide, there have been 275 mass shootings in 2021, about 40 percent more than this time last year, according to the Gun Violence Archive.



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