Chicago, aka ‘Chi-raq’ likely to top 2015 in number of shootings

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Chicago is on track to cross a disturbing threshold and top the number of shootings and homicides in the city in 2015. It’s not a war zone, but it helps explain why some people who live there call it Chi-raq, a name that draws an analogy between the city and Iraq.

Last Friday to Sunday alone, gun violence has been blamed for eight homicides and 64 non-fatal shootings, according to the Chicago Police Department. As of Sunday, homicides so far this year total 459, according to the Chicago Police Department. The Chicago Tribune puts the number of people slain in Chicago this year at a minimum of 464, according to stats collected by the Tribune.

As of Monday, shooting victims in the city total 2,818 for this year, according to the Chicago Tribune, which is just 170 shy of the 2015’s total, 2,988.

It appears likely that the city will pass last year’s mark. At the current pace, Chicago’s 2016 shooting rate averages nearly 82 per week. The city would only have to report about 10 shootings per week by year’s end to pass the 2015 number.

The moniker “Chi-raq,” which combines the words Chicago and Iraq, is also the title of Spike Lee’s 2015 film about gang violence on Chicago’s South Side.

A bloodbath in Chicago

The stats paint a disturbing picture of how shootings have brought trauma to the lives of thousands of people, including NBA star Dwyane Wade’s cousin, Nykea Aldridge.

On Friday, Aldridge was shot while pushing her infant child in a stroller around the corner from a South Side Chicago school.

Several men started shooting and a bullet hit her in the head. Another tore into her arm. Aldridge later died at a hospital.

Her three-week-old child was unhurt. Two men have been arrested in connection to her death.

Her death sparked an outcry — beginning on Twitter from Wade, an NBA star with the Chicago Bulls.

“My cousin was killed today in Chicago,” Wade tweeted. “Another act of senseless gun violence. 4 kids lost their mom for NO REASON. Unreal. #EnoughIsEnough.”

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson also told CNN affiliate WBBM, “I am sick about reporting on murders every weekend.”

South Side resident and Grammy-winning rap artist Rhymefest, who was robbed at gunpoint Saturday, waded into the fray when he invited US GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump to visit.

“I will walk you down a block Mr. Trump,” Rhymefest, told CNN’s Carol Costello on Monday. “I guarantee you won’t get shot.”

The rapper disagrees with Trump’s comments linking the Chicago shooting death of Wade’s cousin to his efforts to reach African-American voters. “Dwyane Wade’s cousin was just shot and killed walking her baby in Chicago,” the tweet said. “Just what I have been saying. African-Americans will VOTE TRUMP!

“Chicago is in a fragile state, however it’s not what Donald Trump is saying it is,” Rhymefest said. “I live in a South Side community. I can walk down my block without getting shot. I can walk down many blocks without getting shot. But it is the decades of disinvestment in the community that makes us not able to really come together.”

Why is there a spike in crime?

The city’s murder stats are rising faster than in 2015. At the end of August last year, 331 people had been killed, according to stats from the Tribune.

Bystanders like Aldridge have been caught in the crossfire of shootings.

“What will be the tipping point?” asked Father Michael Pfleger, a Catholic pastor based in Chicago who has gained national attention for his work with troubled young people. He posed the question on Facebook Sunday, using the hashtag #stateofemergency.

In an attempt to stem the rising crime in Chicago, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a new gun control law last week. Rauner said that 60% of the guns used in shootings in Chicago were purchased out of state. The new law imposes stiffer penalties on anyone without a gun-owner identification card who brings a gun into the state intending to sell it.

Many in the Chicago community believe that a struggling economy is part of the problem, especially in African-American neighborhoods. Several residents told CNN about the need for opportunities for at-risk youths.

“The best thing we can do is create hope, opportunity and jobs particularly on the South and West side for young and black men who have been disenfranchised, who have been on the streets,” said Arne Duncan, former US secretary of education and a senior fellow with the Brown Center on Education Policy in a Brookings Institution podcast.

Others attribute the worsening shooting and murder stats to more brazen gang violence.

Also, relations with the minority communities and the Chicago Police Department have been strained since controversy over the shooting death of Laquan McDonald.