In all, nine children under 18 have been killed since June 20 as Chicago reels from another wave of gun violence. The last two were killed on Saturday evening. A 14-year-old boy was shot to death on Chicago’s South Side. A seven-year-old girl was struck in the forehead by a bullet when three gunmen opened fire on a July 4 street party on the city’s West Side, police said.
“The Windy City is becoming the Bloody City,” said the Rev. Michael L. Pfleger of Saint Sabina Church, calling it the worst period in the 45 years he has worked on social issues. “I have never seen the despair, hopelessness and anger all mixed together at the level it is right now.”
The violence comes amid a wrenching debate nationwide about policing in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis at the hands of police. Those who defend the police say that the violence shows they need more support, not less, and that it is people living in high-crime areas who most need effective policing. Critics say the violence shows how police are failing the public, how deeply residents distrust officers and the need for reforms and the transfer of funds to address underlying problems, including unemployment, mental illness and drug use.
At least 336 people have been murdered in Chicago through July 2 of this year, according to the Chicago Police Department, a homicide rate on track to hit the 2016 record of 778 deaths. (New York City, with almost three times the population, had 176 murders as of June 28.)
Chicago had 658 murders in 2017, 567 in 2018 and 492 in 2019, according to Chicago police records.
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