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March Mayhem: Mayor ‘Never Waste a Crisis’ Oversees Chicago Free-Fall

Mob violence hits the North Side, as murder, culture, and money problems spiral.

by
Rich Baehr

Bio

April 2, 2013 - 8:47 am

It had been an unusually cold month of March in Chicago, but with the first 50 degree day in weeks, about 500 African American teenagers heated up Chicago’s Gold Coast on Saturday night. By the time the mayhem ended, 28 had been arrested, two women had been beaten badly on a CTA train, and dozens of others had been hit, robbed, or threatened.

Several of those arrested told police that the attacks had been planned and coordinated on social networking sites, just as in prior years when packs of teenagers assaulted, robbed, and terrified hundreds of swimmers and sunbathers at the North Avenue Beach.

While Chicago media were careful to avoid bringing up race in the attacks this weekend or in prior years when similar assaults occurred, the video that was captured at the scene told the story.

The mobs fleeing from police did not fit the profile of poorly dressed, angry, underprivileged youths.  The videos seemed to show rioters enjoying themselves, much like the supposedly angry rioters after the Rodney King verdict, who were seen laughing and smiling as they carried off their appliances from looted stores.

An argument could be made that for the vandals in the street this weekend, a character deficit trumped the more common “disadvantaged” explanations for the behavior on display.

The mayhem dealt another blow to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s drive to make Chicago a “world-class city.” He had backtracked on his new policing strategy in February after a bloody January with over 40 murder victims, ordering the police to go back to the “flood the zone” approach — first used on a large scale in New York City — which shifts resources quickly to high-crime areas. The mayor had abandoned this strategy soon after he took office — the murder count rose 20% in the year after his switch, while other large cities saw continued declines in their murder numbers.

In February, the murder count fell after the old strategy was restored, suggesting that the policing strategy the mayor abandoned might have cost lives in 2012.

The city’s status as the murder capital of America became national news in 2012  (Chicago had a murder rate four times that of New York, and more than twice that of Los Angeles for the year). The latest attacks on innocents walking the streets in the best neighborhoods of the city and on those riding the subway have further publicized Chicago’s crime problem – even internationally. Chicago is now linked with cities such as Johannesburg and Rio De Janeiro, which have grappled with extremely high murder tolls for years.

The great majority of Chicago’s murders occur in areas visitors to the city never see. Most murder victims are the same race as their murderer, and most of the murders occur in the South and West areas of the city.

Chicago’s shooting rate is even more astonishing than the number killed: in 2012, approximately one in every 1,000 Chicagoans was shot — a rate 6 times higher than New York’s rate. In other words, New York has more accurate shooters than Chicago. If Chicago’s shooters killed with the accuracy of the shooters in New York, the murder toll would have approached 800 in 2012, not just over 500. This weekend was typical — 23 Chicagoans shot, but only two (so far) dead from the shooting spree. 

The weekend chaos in the North Michigan Avenue area is likely to have a different impact on visitors to the city, and on businesses thinking of moving there or perhaps of leaving Chicago. The fear of random violence is higher in Chicago than in New York , Los Angeles, or Houston, the only other U.S. cities with over two million people.

The personal safety test may be the first test a city has to pass when people think of living there or visiting: is it safe? Last summer, a physician attending a convention in the city was brazenly attacked near his hotel on the North Side. Will that convention consider Las Vegas or Orlando next time around? Chicago has been losing convention business for decades, most of it relocating because Chicago’s union contractors have behaved as if extortion on exhibitors at McCormick Place is the way to conduct business.

Chicago only has so many police to go around — around 13,000. If the Saturday night attacks are a sign that warm spring and summer nights will bring the attackers back to north-side streets, police patrols in high-visibility areas means fewer police to patrol the highest crime areas in other parts of the city, where most of the shootings and murders occur.

Ben Joravsky of the Chicago Reader confirmed the manpower shortfall:

“‘The problem is there’s not enough police on the street — period,’” says one senior officer. “‘I’ve been at this job for 20 years and it’s never been this bad.’” Which another of his subjects connected to the idea of legitimacy:

“Hudson had never before seen such brazen defiance in the face of authority, but the incident was far from the first this summer in his corner of Logan Square, near Drake and Cortland. “The gangbangers will shoot off guns or keep us up late or break a window, and we’ll call the police, and they’re slow to respond,” he says. “If they’re openly defiant to police officers, how are ordinary citizens going to be safe? There’s a loss of authority here.”

By some estimates, there are twice as many police per resident in New York than Chicago. A major part of the difference is the ratio of street police to total force size in the two cities. New York is a wealthier city than Chicago, and has a city income tax, and a larger per capita tax base to support city services. New York has become one of the safest big cities in the world in terms of total crime, and America’s safest large city in terms of murder rate (e.g San Francisco’s murder rate is 60% higher than New York’s).

The perception that New York has become a safer city has led to the city’s reversing its population slide. It now has more people than it ever had. Chicago’s population has dropped by more than a fourth since its peak, and is still slipping. The stories of a soaring  murder rate coupled with assaults in the Gold Coast only reinforce the negative patterns already in play –that the state of Illinois and the city of Chicago are basically broke, and that everyone is fighting to protect their turf and unwilling to make any sacrifice for the greater good (witness the recent teachers’ strike in reaction to an attempt by the mayor to lengthen the school day, which has been far shorter in Chicago than any other major city).

A few months back, there were stories about Rahm Emanuel’s political ambitions — including perhaps a White House run. Given the mayor’s troubles and the city’s troubles the last year and a half, Rahm may want simply to run from Chicago.

Richard A. Baehr is the co-founder and chief political correspondent for the American Thinker. For his day job, he has been a health care consultant for many years doing planning and financial analyses for providers.

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Top Rated Comments   
Here is the recipe for disaster:

When you have a one party city, of any significant size;

When that city is run in a corrupt and unaccountable manner by leftist Democrats;

When that city is significantly "multi-cultural"

When the media in that city (and nationally) steadfastly refuses to report the truth about the party in power...and actively conspires to withhold material facts, evidence and covers up graft, corruption and incompetence:

You WILL:

Have violent crime, including murderous gangs;

Be bankrupt or nearly so, having the coffers raided by SEIU/ACORN theives and con men;

You will have a corrupted legal system;

And...you will have white flight.


Chicago, my home town for 50 years, is one of the greatest cities in the world. Or...should be. It is being systematically destroyed. And that, is a crying shame.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
But they never learn. They never ever learn.

Notice how the problem as stated in Chicago is the number of police, not the character and morality of Chicagoans.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Very good article but you repeat the "safest" big city meme for NYC. The city is safer than average for urban areas but by any objective measure crime in the City is above the national average in all categories. Once Bloomberg leaves office it is highly likely that he will be replaced by an old time Democrat who will end Rudi Giuliani's policing policies and plunging the city back into the bad old days.

NYC is not financially healthy. It is losing high income earners and businesses. Soon it will not be able to afford the kind of policing that keeps the city marginally safe.

There is no substitute for an armed citizenry. The outbreak of violence over the weekend in Chicago would not have happened if the State allowed for concealed carry. The gangbangers have more common sense then the Democratic Party establishment. They wouldn't take the chance of getting shot in the face if they knew people were walking around armed. When you rely of the police for protection the criminals have the advantage. It wouldn't be a surprise to me if the gangs sent the mobs into Gold Coast to force the police to move patrols from their neighborhood to the Gold Coast to protect the City's tourists and middle class shoppers.

I am an ex-pat Chicagoan now living in Northern Virginia right next door to DC. You won't see DC's gangbangers coming into Arlington to cause trouble where a substantial number of citizens carry guns as normal part of daily life.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (28)
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And in Chicago because of the gun control laws a citizen doesn't even have the option of being the bad guy for shooting their assailants.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Do I care about the mess they've created in their "windy" city?

Not much at all...let them stew in the cauldron of violence they have created by disallowing law abiding citizens from fighting back against the animals. That don't deserve the right to live in civilized society. It'll get civilized and much more polite when these thugs start getting dropped by defensive citizens.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
It has been a cold March; 27 deg this morning and last night. Bangers are sissies in the cold - go figure. Last march we had 6 days in the 80's.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
We all wish Rahm would run from Chicago.
I NEVER go downtown anymore; it isn't worth it. Parking is way too expensive. Finding a spot on the street with in half a mile of the restaurant you dropped everyone off at is the norm - why bother!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Especially when that half mile walk alone is a recipe for being assaulted by a group of sweet faced misunderstood youths.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Chicago was my home town, but I got out at age 18 and never looked back. Since my escape in 1968, it's only gotten worse: corruption, political correctness, Democrat party and public employee union stranglehold, contempt for small business and capitalism in general, scorn for middle class values, a giant and ever-growing dependent class with a vast sense of entitlement, and media that won't tell the truth. Obama emerged from this sewer, so we're right now we're seeing Chicago imposed on the entire nation.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Richard,

While I agree with you that Rahm was wrong to abandon the "flood the zone" approach to policing, I'm not sure where you get the idea that New York has more police per capita than Chicago. This was the case twenty years ago, but as this article explains, it is not true now:

http://www.chicagojustice.org/blog/police-staffing-in-america2019s-5-largest-cities

The question is what are the police doing -- and in that comparison it is obvious that New York's more aggresive policing tactics are working and Chicago's are not. For more on this, check out Heather MacDonald's work over at City Journal.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
In Chicago, crisis wastes you.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Force is sometimes required to preserve public order. Sometimes deadly force. But such efforts can only be employed if there is a political will to do so. Our current therapeutic culture recoils from using such force on the thugs and gangsters that endanger the citizenry, since the prevailing view in the more enlightened circles is that these criminals are themselves victims of some social injustice or another, and that perhaps a few more social programs are what’s needed to help us persuade them . . . etcetera. But everyone knows that at the end of the day, either they’re in charge or we are. Indignant editorials won’t do it. Neither will more Head Start programs. Or even new gun control legislation. And certainly not hand wringing.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I always thought Sodom and Gamorrah were new York and Los Angeles. When are the idiots that vote for these guys going to realize that there is no more crime, poverty and corruption than in the mega-cities run for decades by Democrats. They deserve what they get. Let the city burn and turn anyone who looks back into a pillar of salt.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Welcome to Obama's world.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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