DOWNTOWN — Chicago's violence is outpacing what was seen in 2016 even though last year was one of the most deadly in decades for the city.
From Jan. 1 through Sunday, there have been more murders, shootings and people killed or wounded in shootings than over the same period in 2016. Last year saw Chicago's bloodiest days since violence rocked the city in the 90s, and the violence has not slowed.
The first 22 days of this year have seen at least 40 people murdered, including brothers Simmie and Simmieon McGruder and young mother Natalia Ramirez. There were about 35 people murdered over the same time last year.
Shootings are also slightly up: While there were 174 shootings by this time last year, killing 36 people and wounding 186 others, this year has already seen 177 shootings. Shootings in 2017 have killed at least 37 people so far and wounded about 190.
The rise in murders and shootings means this January is so far the most violent in years.
Here's how this January compares to the past (data for Jan. 1-22 for each year):
|Total shootings||People killed||People wounded|
At a press conference Monday, Police Supt. Eddie Johnson said the police force was doing its part, and reiterated a call for harsher sentences for criminals.
“It’s been worse in the last five years, but in terms of comparing it to last year, it hasn’t been much worse. It’s about the same," he said after announcing raids that netted dozens of arrests and gun seizures. " … The officers in CPD are doing a phenomenal job out there arresting the bad guys. Our challenge is to keep arresting these people, which CPD will do but the other part of that is to change the culture of accountability, that’s where we need a prosecutorial partner and our judiciary partners as well as our policy makers in Springfield to help us out.”
Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he was "very concerned" about the uptick.
"It is totally unacceptable," he said.
He agreed with Johnson that lawmakers in Springfield need to increase penalties for gun crimes, and said the state could also help ensure the city students have more afterschool activities and summer job opportunities.
The bloodshed comes as Chicago is still reeling from shootings that claimed more than 700 lives last year. The city and its violence faced sharp criticism from now-President Donald Trump during his campaign, and the president has suggested the city needs federal help.
But activists, residents and experts have said what the city's violence-plagued areas really need is investment in poor neighborhoods and mental health care resources.
Lance Williams, a Northeastern Illinois University professor who studies Chicago's gangs, said the city's shootings will continue until the conditions that lead to violence are addressed.
"I just know as long as we are not dealing with the overarching causes of violence, we're going to continue to see it at elevated levels," Williams said last year.