Korobov: Chicago remains the murder city


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This summer, I worked and lived in downtown Chicago, right in the Loop. I had a routine every morning when I woke up. Before I stumbled over to my closet to rummage through almost identical dress shirts and pants, I’d take a minute to check the news on my phone. Sure enough, by the time I made it outside, I was in a bad mood. 

Just as most people who hail from the northern suburbs of Chicago, crime and violence were rarely a part of my life. That’s not to say that I was unaware of Chicago’s reputation; my parents would always check in with me always hourly whenever I would take the Metra there with my friends.

Actually living downtown was different, though. Not only did the crime updates start popping up as the “local news” on my phone, I was physically closer to it, too. Englewood, which is tied for third in violent crime among Chicago’s communities, is less than 10 miles away from the Loop. The first-place holder, Washington Park, is fewer than 8 miles away.

As I walked across the elegant bridges and admired the diverse architecture, I couldn’t help but wonder how there isn’t more anger about this issue. To give an example, the headline last weekend on NBC Chicago read, “2 Dead, 31 Wounded in Weekend Shootings.” Stories such as this occur almost every day.

The stats are daunting — 421 murders in 2013 and 294 so far this year. In 2012, the number reached 509, which was larger than any other city in the country. In comparison, that same year, New York City recorded 414 murders with almost three times as many people as Chicago. Los Angeles also has a drastically lower murder rate. Clearly, Chicago has a major problem.

In all fairness, crime has decreased in Chicago over the years. In 1992, the city had 943 murders. That’s a 55 percent drop in 21 years. While the numbers show significant progress, the situation today leaves no reason to celebrate.

Crime in Chicago has evolved into a largely political bouncing ball. Mayor Rahm Emanuel gave a passionate speech in August, criticizing the media for focusing too much on isolated incidents without accurately relating what he felt was the complete story. Similarly, when the Chicago police reported homicide number 500 in 2012, the department backtracked hours later and reclassified a previous homicide to leave the number at 499 for a little longer. Everyone wants to save face.

Outside of local news, Chicago’s crime epidemic rarely stays in the national headlines. Foreign policy, immigration, social issues, and politics dominate the news. While all of these issues are important, it baffles me that Chicago’s crime isn’t talked about every day. After all, these are Americans being killed in their homeland. It’s as if the country has accepted this tragedy as a part of who we are. We turn a blind eye; life goes on.

With a substantial portion of students at the University of Iowa residing in or around Chicago, we must be more concerned with the violent reputation of that city. Many of us will return home or rent an apartment downtown to work there after we graduate. The culture can be changed if enough people become outraged and make it a priority.

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