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A hardworking father killed just before 1 a.m.

A West Side high school student murdered two hours later.

A man killed amid South Side looting at a cellphone store at 12:30 p.m.

A college freshman who hoped to become a correctional officer, gunned down at 4:25 p.m. after getting into an argument in Englewood.

While Chicago was roiled by another day of protests and looting in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, 18 people were killed Sunday, May 31, making it the single most violent day in Chicago in six decades, according to the University of Chicago Crime Lab. The lab’s data doesn’t go back further than 1961.

From 7 p.m. Friday, May 29, through 11 p.m. Sunday, May 31, 25 people were killed in the city, with another 85 wounded by gunfire, according to data maintained by the Chicago Sun-Times.

In a city with an international reputation for crime — where 900 murders per year were common in the early 1990s — it was the most violent weekend in Chicago’s modern history, stretching police resources that were already thin because of protests and looting.

“We’ve never seen anything like it, at all,” said Max Kapustin, the senior research director at the crime lab. “ … I don’t even know how to put it into context. It’s beyond anything that we’ve ever seen before.”

The next highest murder total for a single day was on Aug. 4, 1991, when 13 people were killed in Chicago, according to the crime lab.

‘A time bomb’

The Rev. Michael Pfleger, a longtime crusader against gun violence who leads St. Sabina Church in Auburn Gresham, said it was “open season” last weekend in his neighborhood and others on the South and West sides.

“On Saturday and particularly Sunday, I heard people saying all over, ‘Hey, there’s no police anywhere, police ain’t doing nothing,’” Pfleger said.

“I sat and watched a store looted for over an hour,” he added. “No police came. I got in my car and drove around to some other places getting looted [and] didn’t see police anywhere.”

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said on May 31 alone, Chicago’s 911 emergency center received 65,000 calls for all types of service — 50,000 more than on a usual day.

Pfleger noted the systemic problems that have plagued minority communities for decades — like joblessness, food insecurity and a lack of housing — were already heightened by the COVID-19 outbreak, which he said “made a bad situation worse.”

Floyd’s killing in Minnesota simply brought further to the fore the “hopelessness and anger” felt by those living in blighted communities, added Pfleger, who said the current unrest reminds him of the rioting that broke out when the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.

“It’s like a time bomb out here,” Pfleger said. “People are on the edge, people are angry, people are poor, and they don’t even know when it’s going to change.”

If immediate action isn’t taken to address systemic racism, poverty and “black folks being shot down and killed out here like dogs,” Pfleger said the last weekend in May will merely serve as a “coming attraction of what’s going to happen next.”

Most homicide victims in Chicago are young, black men, and the suspects are, too. But murders have fallen significantly in recent years, along with police-involved shootings. There were 764 murders and 12 fatal police-involved shootings in 2016, compared with 492 murders and three fatal police-involved shootings last year.

Read more at chicago.suntimes.com


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