Hours after Chicago’s Puerto Rico Day parade on June 19, a Puerto Rican driver and passenger were dragged from their car by a mob after a minor traffic accident and shot execution-style. The spark from the gunfire can be plainly seen in a video before the offenders run off. The slaying resembles a lynching that might occur in a lawless, poor country but not in the U.S.’s third-largest city.
The growing violence has spilled over into Chicago’s downtown “Loop,” where most commerce is conducted and tourists traditionally visit. On June 19, a Maryland graduate student pursuing a doctoral degree in criminal justice was fatally stabbed to death in broad daylight allegedly by a homeless man who police say is connected with other crimes. The next day, in broad daylight, a woman was shot in the leg in a hotel lobby in the same area.
Following a lack of prosecutions by Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx for post-George Floyd demonstrations in Chicago involving looting and arson, debate about crime statistics in Chicago has become heated. Chicago Police Department figures show that murders in 2021 have increased by 30 percent from 2019, and police Superintendent David Brown admitted at a news conference that shootings in Chicago are up 17 percent and homicide five percent compared to the same time in the past year.
But, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot recently claimed that there was a slight decrease in crime in June and blamed rising crime on COVID-19-related shutdowns of the Cook County court system, an explanation which Chicago alderman rejected.
The New York Times reported that Chicago’s rise in its murder rate for 2020 “is expected to be around 25 percent, the largest increase in U.S. history, in records dating to 1960” and noted that murder rates were higher in 31 of the 37 cities that cut police budgets.
Anti-Police Sentiment is the Elephant in the Room
“Defund the police” protests and the acrid sentiment behind them have had a huge effect on law enforcement, say experts. Everything from investigations and finding criminals to response time suffers from “drastic budget cuts” Maria Haberfield, a professor of police science, told CNN.
“We’re going to lose more young people” without a strong police force, said Eric Adams, a New York mayoral candidate. “Ninety-five percent of those victims … are black and brown, 95 percent of the shooters are black and brown.”