‘The streets are gone,” Dean Angelo, president of the Chicago police union, told me last month. The night before, Aug. 14, a Chicago police officer’s son had been killed in a shooting while sitting on his family’s porch, one of 92 people killed in Chicago during the worst month for homicides in the Windy City since July 1993. The August victims who survived included 10-year-old Tavon Tanner, shot while playing in front of his house (the bullet ripped through Tavon’s pancreas, intestines, kidney and spleen); an 8-year-old girl shot in the arm while crossing the street; and two 6-year-old girls.
On Sept. 6, a 71-year-old man was accosted by a teen on a bike while watering his lawn. The robber demanded the man’s wallet and when he refused shot him in the abdomen, then grabbed his wallet before pedaling away.
By Sept. 8, nearly 3,000 people had been shot in Chicago in 2016, an average of one shooting victim every two hours. Five hundred and sixteen people had been murdered. Gun homicides and non-fatal shootings were up 47% over the same period of 2015, which had seen a significant rise in crime over 2014.
“There is no way out of this shooting spree,” Mr. Angelo said. His despair is understandable.
In October 2015, Mayor Rahm Emanuel told U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch during a crime meeting in Washington, D.C., that the Chicago police had gone “fetal,” and were less likely to interdict criminal behavior. That pull-back worsened in 2016, with pedestrian stops dropping 82% from January through July 20, 2016, compared with the same period in 2015, according to the Chicago police department. The cops are just “driving by people on the corners,” Mr. Angelo says, rather than checking out known drug dealers and others who raise suspicions. Criminals are back in control and black lives are being lost at a rate not seen for two decades.
Chicago cops regularly encounter aggressive hostility when they leave their vehicles. In August a Chicago Tribune reporter filmed a group of teens taunting officers for over an hour while the cops investigated a shooting on the West Side. “F— the police!” went one chant. “Get the f— off my block!” came another insult. Someone fired off shots in a nearby alley for the fun of seeing cops run toward another possible victim. “Run, b—-, run!” a shirtless male shouted as the officers took off in a sprint.
Three gangs—the Vice Lords, Black Disciples and Four Corner Hustlers—reached a pact in August to assassinate Chicago officers, according to a police departmental alert. The National Gang Intelligence Center has also picked up on plans to shoot officers.
“Where does this end?” Mr. Angelo asked last month. “We’re in an unknown environment. We don’t know at what point in time the people in this city and the city council will stand up and say: ‘Enough is enough,’ so that cops feel that they have the support to be the police again.”
The ideal solution to Chicago’s violence would be for more at-risk boys to be raised by their mother and their father. Until that happens, the only hope for law-abiding residents of Chicago’s high-crime areas is that police regain control of the streets.
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