The city of Chicago is falling apart and Mayor Rahm Emanuel is failing in his efforts to address these circumstances. As of last year, the city of Chicago’s homicide level surpassed the total number of Americans killed in both Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001.
Homicides in Chicago reached a total of 765 in 2016—the highest number in two decades, according to the FBI. As of Sept. 17, the city has reached 500 total homicides for this year alone. To stop this increasing violence, Emanuel must do more to address the problems plaguing Chicago that serve as the roots of this violence.
The flaws of the police department in Chicago have caused great distrust of the city’s police. Police brutality in the city of Chicago is a significant problem, according to a Justice Department report of the city’s policing. The report found that the Chicago Police Department has created, “a culture in which officers expect to use force and not be questioned about the need for or propriety of that use.” This confirms the need for Emanuel to address the rising violence in Chicago because it is making individuals less likely to cooperate with law enforcement during investigations.
The city is still dealing with the fallout from the 2014 police shooting of African American teen Laquan McDonald. Officer Jason Van Dyke shot McDonald 16 times from close range as he walked away from the police car- many shots were fired while McDonald was lying in the middle of street. The disturbing facts of this shooting caused vast distrust of law enforcement to arise and Emanuel’s concealment of police dash cam recordings of the events only hardened this skepticism. The mayor withheld video of the shooting from the public for 13 months without legal basis, which only served to produce greater distrust and skepticism of police.
The effect of the McDonald shooting has also influenced law enforcement’s ability to police. The ability of dash cam or cell videos to spread quickly across social media has caused what former FBI Director James Comey described as the “viral video effect.”
Officers in Chicago and across the United States are under intense scrutiny as numerous videos of police brutality have spread across the Internet in recent years. Some fear that officers are less likely to do “marginal additional policing,” as said by Comey, and this is part of the reason for the lack of arrests in Chicago and elsewhere. Many feel that officers are reluctant to question suspicious people or to be proactive in their policing out of fear of encountering a situation where they will be filmed and scrutinized across the nation.
Furthermore, youth employment in Chicago is disastrous; in 2015, 40 percent of African American men aged 20-24 were neither working nor in school, according to a report presented at Chicago’s Urban League’s forum on youth unemployment.
This chronic unemployment of the youth of Chicago can be linked directly to the rising violence in the city. Five of the 77 community areas in Chicago accounted for a third of the homicides in 2016, and these same five counties had teen unemployment rates of 79 to 92 percent and rates of 49 to 70 percent for young adult unemployment, according to the same report.
Emanuel’s attempts to address all of these problems have been met with sharp criticism. Emanuel’s attempted police reforms have been called, “fundamentally flawed,” and “set up for failure,” by Lori Lightfoot, co-chair of Emanuel’s own Police Accountability Task Force. In addition, Chicago artist, Chance the Rapper, has said the mayor’s attempts at fixing Chicago’s Public Schools, “won’t commit to give Chicago’s kids a chance without caveats or ultimatums.”
More must be done by Emanuel to address these components of Chicago’s rising violence. If these constituents were met with true solutions, Chicagoans could at least have honest hope for a reduction in unrest.