Among the nation’s largest cities, Chicago stands out for its high murder rate and for the number of its murders that go unsolved. In recent years the police have been solving about 4 of every 10 murders, but the rate is even worse when the victim is African American, reports NPR. The data, obtained by WBEZ under Illinois’ open-records law, show the city had 849 murders between the beginning of 2018 and this past July. When the victim was white, 47 percent of the cases were solved during those same 19 months. For Hispanics, the rate was about 33 percent. When the victim was African American, it was less than 22 percent.
Community members, academics and police officials agree that at the base of the department’s failure to solve murders is a lack of trust. “I think it’s a testament to how disposable black bodies and black lives are in this country,” said Bernard Lilly Jr., 23, a musician and school-based mentor who attributed high crime rates and low clearance rates in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood to “systemic racism.” Lilly said he thinks it can be hard for police to solve murders in some African American neighborhoods because witnesses don’t want to help police. He understands why they don’t.