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Chicago Violence Invades Usually Safer Neighborhoods

Chicago’s gun violence proved unrelenting in 2021, as the fear and unease many neighborhoods have long felt spread into wealthier, traditionally safer areas. Shootings remained high in many neighborhoods that have for decades struggled with violence, but the downtown area was also repeatedly the site of shootings, burglaries at high-end shops and large-scale gatherings of young people. Carjackings continued to increase around the city. Children, seniors and even transit workers found themselves victims in areas that are not known for violence, reports the Chicago Tribune. A review of the two years that coincide with the COVID-19 pandemic found a dramatic uptick in both homicides and shootings across the city, with a more-than-60 percent increase in both categories that increased pressure on policymakers to find answers.

Despite the rise in violence in wealthier, white neighborhoods and tourist areas, most of 2021′s gun violence happened in communities of color that have for years been less safe, the same neighborhoods that have long suffered systemic failures around housing, education and policing. The sustained, widespread increase in violence across Chicago resulted in a rare speech by Mayor Lori Lightfoot as the homicide total edged toward 800, the highest count in recent memory. Through Dec. 21, there had been 783 homicides in the city and an additional 3,592 nonfatal shooting victims. Chicago's numbers stand out, with its homicide totals easily surpassing the city’s major counterparts. Experts cautioned that it will take time to understand the ripple effects the pandemic had on public safety, as it potentially shifted crime patterns and created a higher level of interpersonal conflict at a time when the number of guns in circulation soared. It was the spreading of violence into typically safer areas of Chicago that will also mark 2021, as many of those neighborhoods endured a stark jump from pre-pandemic crime levels.


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