CHICAGO (CBS) — A 24-year-old man was killed and a 23-year-old man was grazed by a bullet in a shooting in the West Lawn neighborhood late Wednesday night, capping off the most violent month in Chicago in 20 years.
Chicago police said there were 90 homicides in August, and a total of 472 people shot in 384 separate attacks. The city has not had that many murders in one month since August 1996.
As he has several times before, Police Supt. Eddie Johnson said a relatively small group of repeat gun criminals are responsible for the the vast majority of gun violence in Chicago. The department maintains a watchlist of sorts, called the “strategic subject list,” which relies on an algorithm to try to predict who is most likely to be involved in a shooting – either as the shooter or victim – by analyzing data such as gang affiliations, criminal records, past shootings, and previous contact with police.
“Most of our violence is driven by 1,400 individuals in this city. So until we hold these repeat gun offenders accountable for their actions, we’re going to continue to see this violence,” Johnson said.
Overall this year, there have been 467 homicides in Chicago, more than New York City and Los Angeles combined.
“We also recover more guns than New York and L.A. combined, but that just shows you the proliferation of guns out here in the streets of Chicago,” Johnson said.
The staggering numbers of shootings and homicides were one reason why activist priest Rev. Michael Pfleger led an anti-violence meeting and peace march Wednesday night, including a die-in at 79th and Racine, where he called on Gov. Bruce Rauner to declare a state of emergency in the city.
Pfleger said that would free up federal funds to help local police. To drive home his point, he spelled out SOS, the universal distress signal, in a gallon of red liquid he called “blood.” He also lowered the American flag outside his church, and raised it again upside down, which is officially recognized as a distress signal.
He vowed that the march would not be his last traffic-stopping protest.
“We shut down downtown when our kids get shot, and we shut down the South Side when our kids get shot, and you know what? It’s time all over this city to shut streets down,” he said.
Pfleger also criticized Chicago Fraternal order of Police president Dean Angelo Sr., who repeatedly has asked officers not to volunteer for overtime during the Labor Day weekend.
“When the stupid federation of police president told police officers ‘don’t do any overtime’ to make some political point, go to hell. Go to hell, Angelo,” he said.
In response, Angelo said, “I believe that the good priest should be more concerned with his flock them with the FOP.”
The union has said the three-day Labor Day weekend should be considered “FOP Unity Days.”
“In order to show unity and protest the continued disrespect of Chicago police officers and the killings of law enforcement officers across our country, we are requesting FOP members to refrain from volunteering to work (overtime),” the union said in a memo to Chicago FOP members.
Angelo has said the request is not a negotiation ploy or a job action. He said this is about one thing: officers spending time with their families.