Chicago police say more than 50 people were shot, eight of them fatally, in gun violence over the weekend. Two people were stabbed to death, bringing the total number of homicides to 10. (June 3)
With the national homicide rate hovering near historic lows, Chicago’s police chief on Monday decried a “despicable level of violence” over the weekend in which 52 people were shot, eight of them fatally, and two people were stabbed to death.
The nation’s third-largest city is one of few that has struggled with gun violence in recent years, but is still on track to drop its homicide count for the third year in a row. The weekend’s shootings happened during one of the city’s warmest so far this year, aligning with conditions the city tends to see an increase in violence.
Police responded to the incidents between 6 p.m. Friday until midnight Sunday by increasing the number of uniformed officers on the street, Superintendent Eddie Johnson said.
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Targeting areas where police expected gang members to retaliate for previous shootings, Johnson said officers seized 92 illegal firearms, nearly twice as many as the department seizes in a typical warm-weather weekend. In the coming weeks, Chicago police said more patrol officers will be stationed in popular areas for tourists and residents.
Some disagree with the approach, as the department has received criticism for its use of force against black and Latino communities. Earlier this year, the police department agreed to undertake dozens of reforms after the state’s attorney general sued the agency, alleging it had a troubling record of civil rights violations.
The department has paid more than $700 million since 2010 on settlements and legal fees related to lawsuits alleging police brutality.
Chicago’s violence also disproportionately affects several swaths of low-income black and Latino neighborhoods on the West and South sides.
Homicides in Chicago surged to more than 770 three years ago, but have dropped since – to 660 in 2017 and 561 last year.
On Monday, Johnson criticized gun laws and court policies that he says turn the county jail into a revolving door for gun offenders.
“Until we stop giving them (gun offenders) the sense that they can do this with impunity, then we are going to continue to have these press conferences,” he said.
Contributing: The Associated Press; Aamer Madhani, USA TODAY
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