Thursday, January 2, 2014

Chicago homicides at a low in my life; so much for cheap partisan rhetoric

I’ve made it clear before that I’m not among those all hyped up about the rising homicide rate in Chicago – which in 2012 did experience a jolt upward but was far from being anywhere close to a record for urban violence.

So the fact that things seem to have returned to the norm in the now-completed year of 2013 ought to be seen as a plus. The New York Times on Wednesday reported there were 417 homicides in Chicago through Monday.

THERE WERE A couple more on Tuesday, with the final incident in 2013 resulting in a human death being a shooting outside of a store in the Englewood neighborhood. Although the rule of thumb for putting together a homicide tally for the year is that it matters when an incident occurs – not when the person is pronounced dead.

Which means by the end of the week, there could be a few more people added onto the list About 420 slayings for 2013 is the most accurate figure that we can give now. It's an educated guess.

Which, according to the Chicago Tribune means this year will probably go down in the books as being the lowest homicide total since 1965 – the year of my birth.

I’m pushing close to 50 (another year and a half) and this could turn out to be the safest the city has ever been.

ALL THAT MAY well be true. But I’m also realistic enough to know that none of this statistical spin means anything if you’re of the parts of Chicago that are getting hit with the bulk of this violent activity.

And if you’re of a family whose members included one of the approximately 420 deceased, I’m sure it doesn’t matter at all that this is a low – or that 2012 with its 503 homicides was an aberration!

Or that we used to have 900-plus homicides per year in the city back in the late 1980s-early 1990s. It is an era I particularly remember because it is when I regularly wrote about cop-shop stuff for the now-defunct City News Bureau of Chicago. There are still intersections across the city that, in my mind, jolt memories of 26-year-old slayings that too many others have long forgotten.

Englewood ought to warrant our attention
It may well be appropriate that the final violent incident of 2013 occurred around 71st Street and Vincennes Avenue outside of one of those neighborhood markets that no one outside of Englewood would ever think of shopping at.

MANY OF US wouldn’t even pay attention to this particular incident because of the neighborhood it occurred in.

And those with Englewood ties have probably become so immune to the violence that the masses don’t give a thought to that the only reason the death of 26-year-old Vincent Rogers will be noted was because it occurred with about three-and-a-half hours before Janet Davies could mark the end of 2013 along State Street.

It should also be noted that the urban violence continues even though ’13 is through. The Chicago Tribune reported about shootings in the Fernwood and Park Manor neighborhoods on the South Side.

Four were wounded – although in those cases, the gunmen were Chicago Police patrolmen responding to incidents of shots fired in the neighborhoods.

SO AS WE move forward into ’14 (the holiday’s over – even though I realize there are those who think they’re entitled to do nothing on the job until Monday), we should give a thought about the degree to which we accept violent crimes as part of the status quo.

We as a whole have to take a harsher attitude toward the situation, and not ignore it just because it might not impact our specific home neighborhood.

But more important, going on and on about violence in Chicago just to score cheap political points for someone’s “cause” is even more reprehensible.

Particularly because it tries to make a point that is just factually inaccurate!


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