There was a grim and dispirited chill in the air of the Windy City this past holiday weekend, as not even the jovial spirit of Christmas was enough to keep blood from shedding. According to the Chicago Tribune, at least 33 people were shot and 11 were killed throughout the last weekend in Chicago. Seven fatalities of those fatalities occured on Christmas Day.
The unfathomably gun-riddled weekend caps off what has been an extremely violent year in the city, where there have been over 740 homicides in 2016 so far. In fact, this is the first year that number of homicides has surpassed 700 since 1998. On top of that, there has also been an almost 50% increase in nonfatal shootings throughout Chicago.
Among those killed this weekend were brothers James and Roy Gill, both of whom were shot at a Christmas party. Five others were also wounded. James and Roy were reportedly shooting dice with relatives on the porch when they were suddenly fired upon. Another man, 27-year-old Juan Gonzalez, was killed in the Brighton Park neighborhood while he was streaming a video on Facebook Live.
Speaking to NPR, Susan Johnson, the head of Chicago Survivors, attributed this uncontrollable violence to “rampant illegal gun trafficking, and lots of young, disorganized gangs.” Her organization helps the families of victims to cope with the violent loss of their loved ones. “So many families are afraid to send their children outside anymore,” she said.
While Mayor Rahm Emanuel came out with a plan to help curb Chicago’s gun violence back in September, his promises have been met with skepticism as little has changed. Over the last year alone, the overall violent crime rate in Chicago has climbed 16.2%. As we’ve seen in many instances this year, many of the victims involved in these shootings are unaffiliated with gangs, and oftentimes just innocent bystanders in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Gun violence in Chicago has been a serious issue for many years, but even as local celebrities like Chance the Rapper and Kanye West try to give a voice the problems of their hometown, it seems mosty to fall on empty ears. Gun violence has seen a minor uptick across the country, but no place exemplifies this as grimly as Chicago.