Twenty hours after a Chicago gang leader was assassinated this month on a street, a toddler was shot and critically injured while sitting in an SUV with his mother and grandmother. It was the latest spasm of bloodshed before a mayoral election that many people say could redefine Chicago’s identity, reports the Washington Post.
For much of the campaign, candidates have described a city wracked by gun violence. They point to a wave of carjackings and shootings downtown and in better-off neighborhoods as proof that violence has seeped out of the South and West sides to affect all of Chicago.
“There’s no place we can call safe,” said former police superintendent Garry McCarthy, one of 14 people running to succeed two-term Mayor Rahm Emanuel in next week’s election.
There’s no unanimity on solutions, though many are demanding that the city’s next leader overhaul its long-troubled police force. Candidates tread a fine line between supporting the department and responding to communities that harbor a deep distrust of law enforcement.
“You can’t solve it just on the policing side — that we all know,” said Bill Daley, the son and brother of two previous mayors, who calls police reform the “single biggest issue” facing the city.
The Crime Lab at the University of Chicago says violence is a reason for the exodus of more than 200,000 black residents since 2000. While homicides fell in 2018 compared with 2017 and 2016, when 762 people were killed and more than 4,000 shot, every new spate of violence only reinforces fears.
Across the spectrum, the 10 men and four women vying to be mayor have pledged to address root causes of violence: poverty and segregated neighborhoods, too few jobs in lower-income areas and the disproportionate incarceration of African-American men.