Chicago Already Ahead of 2012's Murder Rate

The first week of Chicago violence is on the books, and the city’s killers are already on a pace to beat last year’s total of 516 and make sure the title of “Murder City” stays right here in the Windy City.

In the first six days of this year, 12 people were murdered in Mayor Rahm Emanuel's Chicago. That’s two ahead of last year’s six-day total. And at two a day, it puts us on a pace for 730 this year, which would be our highest total since 1997. Six people were killed this past weekend alone.

Chicago already has notched twice as many murders as interstate rival Detroit, which experienced a 20-year high in homicides last year but is only up to six so far this year.

New York City, which had 414 murders last year despite a population three times as large as Chicago, didn’t have its first killing of the year until Jan. 3, when a 59-year-old Bronx woman was shot in the chest.

Consistent with last year, nine of the 12 murders have occurred on the South Side, a geographic fact The New York Times noted in an article entitled “A Soaring Homicide Rate, A Divide in Chicago”:
But the overall rise in killings here blurs another truth: the homicides, most of which the authorities described as gang-against-gang shootings, have not been spread evenly across this city. Instead, they have mostly taken place in neighborhoods west and south of Chicago’s gleaming downtown towers. 
In 2011, the most recent year for which a racial breakdown is available, 74.6 percent of murder victims were African-American, 19.5 percent were Latino, and 4.3 percent were white. Citywide, the population is 42.6 percent white, 38 percent African-American and 26 percent Latino. That means a black Chicagoan is 20 times more likely to be a murder victim than a white Chicagoan.
Given that the killings haven’t let up, and given that it’s cold outside -- last year’s deadliest month was August, with 57 murders -- you’re going to be hearing a lot more about murder in Chicago. Murderers also got a break last week when a ban on assault weapons -- which the NRA estimated would have taken 50 percent of the rifles and shotguns off the market in  Illinois -- died in the General Assembly’s lame duck session. If you’re keeping score, RedEye tracks all the victims by name, date and place.  
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