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Mayor Rahm Emanuel claims Chicago is not the murder capital: Really?

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel
Photo by Tasos Katopodis

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel says that there are new statistics showing violent crime is down in Chicago, according to an interview conducted by Politico with the mayor and reported upon on Monday. Ironically, the report of Emanuel’s defensive comments about Chicago crime come out the morning after another violent weekend in Chicago in which four people were killed with 24 wounded throughout the city. Yet, according to Emanuel, the narrative is that Chicago is the murder capital of the world - and he claims that Chicago is not even close to being the murder capital.

Emanuel said that he is most concerned with the opinions of Chicago’s residents about the safety of the neighborhoods throughout the city. The defensive mayor appears to be frustrated with news outlets. He says the media focuses on individual incidents of crime without revealing the whole story. In Emanuel’s words, he says that when it comes to the perception, “the job of the media is to kind of lift the fog.” With quotes like that, it confusing as to how he can say the media is confusing. In recent months, the Chicago Police Department – headed by Superintendent Garry McCarthy – has been accused of being misleading with the figures on crime in the city. For one thing, it was said that when there are multiple shootings in one shooting incident, the data asserts that there was one shooting in spite of the multiple injuries in a specific criminal episode.

Persons who disagree with Emanuel’s assessment of crime in the city believe his quoted statistics don’t quite tell the truth. There can be little arguing that crime is much too high in the low-income, minority neighborhoods which are primarily on Chicago’s South and West Sides. The city remains incredibly segregated by race with most African Americans living on the South and West Sides of Chicago.

However, Emanuel claims he has numbers that indicate violent crime is down – specifically homicides. In fact, the Chicago Police Department’s statistics state that homicides from the beginning of the year through the end of July are down some 7 percent when compared to 2013 – and down 20 percent when compared to four years ago in 2010.

Being somewhat in line with his critics concerning crime, Emanuel says that there is more work to be done in the neighborhoods where most of the crime is committed. When asked about the infamous July 4th weekend in Chicago, the mayor could only say that it was a horrible weekend. After all, what else could he say with a straight face after more than 80 people were shot in during the holiday weekend which resulted in 14 people being killed.

He admits that he feels angry about random shots like the bullet that went through a window and killed an 11-year-old girl recently. These are the types of horrendous killings happening in Chicago. Yet, Emanuel says that Chicagoans are looking for solutions rather than seeing how much they can get angry. Chicago televised news outlets, however, have shown some clips of very angry Chicagoans over the violence time and again.

The claims from the Chicago mayor come the morning after two persons were shot and killed by armed persons on Sunday evening. One of the incidents occurred on the West Side and the other on the South Side, according to a Chicago Tribune report. All told for the weekend, there were four deaths by gunshots with 24 persons wounded throughout the city in the past weekend. Such Monday morning headlines in Chicago’s newspapers are not uncommon, unfortunately.

Beyond the troubled violence in the city, Emanuel is being criticized for a number of other issues. Persons are extremely concerned by the red light cameras that have been found to have issued unwarranted tickets and Emanuel’s speed cameras which Emanuel claims is all about safety as the speed cams spit out tickets near city schools and parks as late as 11 p.m. when no children are present and need such strict policing of low speed limits. Critics claim what they say is obvious – it’s not about safety. Instead it’s about money. To make matters worse, Emanuel was caught speeding past school zones and never paid the tickets.

Needless to say, Emanuel’s re-election efforts for next year’s mayoral election will be an extremely tough one. Among his potential challengers is Chicago Public School Teacher’s Union President Karen Lewis. In recent polls, Lewis is favored over Emanuel for the city’s top job. Chicago’s 2nd ward alderman, Bob Fioretti, is also talking up a possible campaign as he is armed with many of the negatives that the citizens are throwing at Emanuel at this time. Emanuel’s strong base in his first election was the minorities – blacks and Hispanics – and, according to polled data, he is currently losing a great deal of support from them. Of course, he will forever be chained at the waist with President Barack Obama, as he was Obama’s Chief of Staff prior to his successful bid for mayor – and Obama’s approval rating is currently incredibly low as well.