Gun Violence Spikes in NYC, Philadelphia; 9 Kids Dead in Chicago

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Illustration by Kostya Vacuum via Flickr

Nine Chicago children under 18 have been killed since June 20 as the city suffers from another wave of gun violence, the New York Times reports. Two were killed Saturday evening. A boy, 14, was shot to death, and a seven-year-old girl was struck in the forehead  when three gunmen opened fire on a July 4 street party.

“The Windy City is becoming the Bloody City,” said the Rev. Michael Pfleger of Saint Sabina Church, calling it the worst period in the 45 years he has worked on social issues.

Meanwhile in Philadelphia, 24 hours of non-stop gun violence over the Fourth of July weekend has put a further crimp in city’s plans to introduce a new anti-violence strategy, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. 

The strategy of group violence intervention had been slated to begin in April, but now is likely to debut in mid-July at the earliest, city officials said.

“Not only are we dealing with COVID, but we’re also continuing to deal with the prevalence of homicides and shootings in our community,” Inspector Jarreau Thomas commented.

In the latest burst of shooting violence, officials reported that 21 Philadelphians were injured and five fatally wounded over the weekend. Included in those killed were a six-year old boy and a 37-year-old woman who was shot twelve times in the chest, reports CBS.

“This weekend is a stark reminder that COVID-19 isn’t our only crisis,” said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney. “Gun violence continues to traumatize our communities and cut lives short.”

New York City also experienced a spike in gun violence over the holiday weekend.  On Sunday, in a period of just nine-hours, police were called to investigate the deaths of three people and nearly three dozen people injured from incidents of gun violence.

“The steep rise in citywide violence comes weeks after the NYPD has disbanded its elite, plain-clothed Anti-Crime Units designed specifically to seek out gun-toting criminals. It also follows week of protests against the police resulting in a billion dollars cut from their budget, according to AMNY.

The violence comes amid a nationwide debate about policing after George Floyd’s death.

Police defenders say the violence shows they need more support, not less, and that it is people in high-crime areas who need effective policing. Critics say the violence shows how police are failing the public, how deeply residents distrust officers and the need for reforms.

At least 336 people have been murdered in Chicago through July 2, a total on track to hit the 2016 record of 778 deaths. (New York City, with almost three times the population, had 176 murders.)

Before the coronavirus hit, homicides were escalating nationwide in 2020. Although the lockdown brought a pause, they began rising as stay-at-home measures were lifted.

Homicide totals fell in 39 of 64 major cities during April and began creeping up in May.

“Because this is not one crisis, this is two crises operating at the same time, this could in fact be worse than what we saw in 2016,” said Thomas Abt, an author of the homicide study by Arnold Ventures.

The Police Department let its community policing program wither two decades ago, said criminologist Wesley Skogan, of Northwestern University. Now, police officers canvassing unfamiliar blocks find that residents do not open their doors out of fear of being seen talking to an officer, he said.

Likewise, Minneapolis also witnessed an increase in gun violence over the weekend. “Nearly half of 3,218 such shots-fired calls this year came after the death of George Floyd,” reports the Star Tribune.

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