One month into the new year Chicago has already set an ignominious record for homicides.
By late Tuesday, the Chicago Police Department had logged 42 such killings, making this the second consecutive January to top 40 homicides and the most violent first month of the year since 2002. By sheer happenstance, the 42nd victim was a teenage girl who had performed with her high school band at President Obama’s inauguration earlier this month.
The January report does not bode well for turning the corner from last year, when homicides totaled 513 – the highest since 2008. Last summer, as the body count rose – primarily in marginalized swaths of Chicago where joblessness and poverty seem entrenched – Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy stood together to blame the epidemic of shootings on squabbles between multiplying gang factions and a proliferation of illegal guns.