Violent crime on the rise in Chicago

October 3, 2008 4:22:26 PM PDT
This has been a violent year so far in the city of Chicago. Through the end of September, there were 50 more murders than during the same time in 2007.However, residents of some high-crime neighborhoods say they don't need to hear crime statistics to know that violence has increased.

In the 700 block of North Harding on the West Side, there was a strange peacefulness Friday afternoon. Nine days before, it was a crime scene where police removed the body of 30-year-old Raymond "Raydub" Johnson, who had been shot to death. Most of the neighbors ABC7 spoke with in the area said Johnson will not be missed.

"For years, he's been something like a bully here and in fact he has shot a couple of people himself," said Roger Walker. "People were happy."

Add Raydub Johnson's name to the growing list of Chicago homicide victims.

As of September 30, there had been 392 murders in the city, compared to 342 during the same nine-month period in 2007.

Tio Hardiman of the anti-violence Ceasefire program said the vast majority of victims lived in poor, predominantly black neighborhoods where even small disputes are too often settled with gunfire.

"Seventy-five percent of the people in these African-American communities, which I come from, are on retaliation or defense mode. [They think[ 'If somebody steps to me, I'm going to take their,'" Hardiman said.

But West Side rapper and music producer Larry Davis blames Chicago's worsening economy for the spike in homicides.

"You see somebody with something else and you need it badly. So, you do anything to get it," he said. "It doesn't matter."

Chicago police Supt. Jody Weis, who attended the funeral of a policeman shot to death in the line of duty Friday, would not comment on the rise in Chicago murders or the fact that homicides in other big cities like Los Angeles and New York have gone down during the same period.

Crime had dropped consistently since about 2003, with murders dipping below 500 in 2004, the lowest since the 1960s. As recently as seven years ago, the murder tally was closer to 700.

David Olson of the Criminal Justice Department at Loyola University said there are likely several causes for the increase, including changes in police staffing and changes in the drug markets that drive shootings.

Meanwhile, North Harding's Andre Whitley, who says he been shot four times, says the resurgent violence is becoming too much to bear.

"I hate even watching the news because its depressing," he said. "I may have a handful of friends now because they are either in jail for the rest of their lives or dead."

No arrests have been made in the murder of Raydub Johnson, who had been paroled from a state prison just a week earlier.

Hardiman told ABC7 Chicago that Ceasefire can send outreach workers to neighborhoods that have problems like the one on North Harding to try and prevent violence, but the program has endured significant budget cuts during the past year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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