Chicago Violence Toll Tied to Poor Neighborhoods

Chicago is flourishing economically but the wealth is not equally distributed and neither is crime. A dozen poor, minority neighborhoods account for half of the city’s shootings.

In an analysis of Chicago crime data, Axios reports that while the city’s homicide rate is not the highest in the U.S., Chicago has consistently had more total killings than any other U.S. city, with 27 people killed since the beginning of the month. Racial segregation, wealth inequality, gangs and the inability of law enforcement to solve crimes have fueled the gun violence epidemic, and a handful of minority, impoverished neighborhoods have had the brunt of the impact. Gun-related homicides this year have dropped since the spikes in 2016 and 2017. This year still has the third highest number of homicides of the past 15 years.

Chicago is flourishing economically, with a record-low unemployment rate of 3.8 percent  and a third of its city workers making at least $100,000. The wealth is not equally distributed over the starkly segregated neighborhoods, and neither is the violence. Lack of resources and opportunities often lead young people in poor communities to turn to violence, community leaders and gun regulation advocates say. A dozen poor, minority neighborhoods account for 50 percent of Chicago’s shootings, says a study by Northwestern University. There were 215 shootings in the Austin neighborhood on the West Side of Chicago in the first seven months of the year, almost 12 percent of the city’s total. Adam Alonso of BUILD Chicago said children in neighborhoods like Austin walk out of the house with the belief “they might not make it back home.” The median income in the majority-African-American neighborhood is $20,000 less than the median income for Chicago, and almost a third of the neighborhood’s residents live below the poverty line. The gun violence problem will be solved once the economic and racial equality problems are solved, said Colleen Daley of the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence.