America’s Mass-Shooting Capital Is Chicago
People living in Chiraq’s worst neighborhoods are more likely to be killed than citizens of the world’s leading murder capitals.
CHICAGO — Four men and two women were shot on April 5 last year, then five weeks later a 15-year-old boy and two men were shot.
Another 15-year-old boy and two men were shot in July. Three men were shot on August 21. Three men and a 73-year-old woman were shot in September. Again in September, two boys ages 12 and 16 were shot along with an 18-year-old man. Two women and one man were shot on that same block on Nov. 19.
These mass shootings didn’t happen in Roseburg, Lafayette, Charleston, or Chattanooga but in Chicago’s worst neighborhoods, where–by one measure–it is more dangerous to live than the world’s most-murderous countries.
West Garfield Park, population 18,000, had 21 murders last year, which makes for a homicide rate of 116 per 100,000 people. The world’s leader in murders, Honduras, has a homicide rate of 90, according to the United Nations.
Following West Garfield Park in lethality was West Englewood and its 73.3 murder rate, more than second-place Venezuela with its 53.7 rate. Chicago’s Chatham (58) beats Belize (44.7); Englewood (52.6) outdoes El Salvador (41.2); South Chicago (48) tops Guatemala (39.9). The United States as a whole has 4.5 murders per 100,000.
Chicago’s 411 homicides don’t look like a lot compared the city’s 2.7 million residents, but that’s the misleading part of this grim numbers game: Determining a city’s level of violence by looking at its overall per capita rate doesn’t tell you shit if you don’t examine numbers in the hood.
And West Garfield Park is certainly that. The neighborhood has an average annual income of just more than $10,000; 40 percent of households live below the poverty line. West Garfield Park ranks near the top of Chicago’s 77 neighborhoods on the city’s “hardship index,” which is calculated by taking into account those living in crowded housing, and unemployment rates among teens and adults, among other factors. The higher the number, the more difficult life will be, according to the statisticians. West Garfield Park and its 96 percent black residents scores 92 on the hardship index.
Many of those killed last year in West Garfield Park were men in their twenties. But there were others whose deaths are perhaps less dismissable. Shamiya Adams, an 11-year-old killed by a bullet to the head as she sat in a friends bedroom making s’mores, could be one. Or 21-year-old Shambreyh Barfield, killed by gunfire intended for someone else as she sat on her front porch with a friend, might be one to pick out as a particularly tragic death.
And for every person killed by gunfire in Chicago, another four are shot and survive. Last year the city had more than 2,000 shootings and has surpassed that total in 2015. West Garfield Park’s per capita shooting rate was a staggering 411 per 100,000 people, followed closely behind by West Englewood’s 391.5.
The media and politicians don’t really care about that though. The new “epidemic” is mass shootings, they say, just a few months removed from the previous epidemic of police killings. Those clamoring for change in the wake of another unexpected gun massacre are right: Mass shootings are a problem–in Chicago. The city saw 107 mass shootings last year, defined as having three or more victims. As of July 25 of this year, there have been 192 mass shootings, according to the Chicago Tribune. When a crazed gunman shoots up innocents on a tree-lined campus in a sleepy Oregon town, calls to action are loud and forceful. But when six people are shot in the 4300 block of West Wilcox in Chicago–as they were last year–there is silence.
It can be hard for readers to keep up–let alone for people to contemplate–the daily massacres on Chicago’s streets. Just last week, a grandmother, her pregnant daughter, and the woman’s 11-month-old son were shot in a drive-by in Chicago’s Back of the Yards neighborhood. The child lived; his mother and grandmother did not.
“You would think that the attention would be tremendous, but it really wasn’t,” Pastor Corey Brooks said. While he was surprised to hear that some Chicago neighborhoods near his own trumped per capita murder rates of violent South American countries, Brooks wasn’t that surprised.
“We keep telling people about the magnitude and seriousness of the issue, but we’re obviously not getting people to hear the message,” the anti-violence pastor and rare black Republican said. “I think what’s going on is it’s expected, that people think it’s a way of life on the South Side of Chicago. And people have been desensitized.”
With 6,000 shootings since 2012, perhaps that’s to be expected.
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