The new year brings devastating news to Chicago when it comes to violence. Numbers from the Chicago Police Department indicate that in 2016, the Windy City saw 762 murders, 3,550 shooting incidents and 4,331 shooting victims in what is being called the most violent year in nearly two decades, with more shootings than New York and Los Angeles combined.
Reports indicate that in the last week of 2016 alone, police investigated 27 shooting incidents, 12 of which were fatal. City officials, law enforcement and community leaders continue to scramble to not only prevent more bloodshed in 2017 but also better identify the root of the problem.
On New Year’s Eve, hundreds of people took to the streets with wooden crosses for a march along Michigan Avenue in memory of those lost to gun violence. The crosses bore the names of victims and places on the city’s South Side, where much of the violence took place.
One of the most recent deadly shootings took place last month, when 49-year-old anti-violence activist Lawrence Matchem was gunned down while shoveling snow at a building he managed.
Reports indicate Matchem was shot in the head and officers found him unresponsive. No arrests have been made.
In 2016, anti-violence activists from Chicago came to New York City to meet with local activists. The meeting took place shortly after the fatal shooting of Nykea Aldridge, cousin of NBA player Dwayne Wade.
“Resources must be put on the ground to those brothers and sisters who have boots on the ground who work directly with taking guns out of people’s hands, giving young people jobs and transforming mindsets so they no longer use gun violence as a solution to their problems,” said Erica Ford of LIFE Camp.
Earlier this week, law enforcement officials announced initiatives to reduce violence, including hiring more beat officers, detectives, lieutenants, sergeants and field-training officers.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced this week an expansion of mentoring services across 12 existing community providers to serve an additional 660 youths, beginning in the new year. The expansion is a $1.5 million city budget investment to advance Emanuel’s goal of providing mentoring for the city’s most at-risk youth in 22 target community areas by 2018.
“The City of Chicago will never turn our back on our youth, which is why we made a promise to increase opportunities that will allow our young men to succeed and to get their lives on track,” said Emanuel. “Every investment that we make in quality mentoring services is a down payment on our goal of reaching the youth who need us most with opportunities that will prepare them for success in school today and a brighter future tomorrow.”