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Chicago Gun Death Rate Is So High, It’s Called 'Chiraq'

For more than a decade, some people have used the term “Chiraq” — a mashup of Chicago and Iraq — to describe a city whose violence makes some neighborhoods feel like battle zones. Now, researchers have found that some parts of Chicago are even deadlier for military-aged young men than what U.S. soldiers faced in war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Chicago Sun Times reports. The risk of a man 18 to 29 years old dying in a shooting in the most violent ZIP code in Chicago — 60624, a swath of the West Side that includes Garfield Park — was higher than the death rate for U.S. soldiers in the Afghanistan war or for soldiers in an Army combat brigade that fought in Iraq, according to a study in the medical journal JAMA Network Open.


“You fight in an Army combat brigade, you come back and say, ‘My God, I was in the thick of it for a year, and look at the risks I faced,’ ” says Brandon del Pozo, a Brown University researcher and former New York City cop who worked with three other scholars to examine violence in Chicago, Philadelphia, New York and Los Angeles. “In Garfield Park, these young men face those risks every single year. And the risks accumulate.” Among men 18 to 29, the annual rate of firearm homicides in that ZIP code was 1,277 per 100,000 people in 2021 and 2022, the study found, compared with an annual death rate for U.S. troops in a heavily engaged combat brigade in Iraq of 675 per 100,000. The most violent ZIP codes in Philadelphia surpassed the risk of combat death by military service members, too, but the death rate there was lower than in Chicago, the study found. New York and Los Angeles didn’t have any areas that were so deadly.

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