Chicago's 2012 Murder Rate Tied to Drugs, Gangs and Personal Conflict

Chicago's 2012 murder rate has
been a constant fixture in the
media this year, with reports of
deadly shootings occurring nearly
every day. Most of the shootings
are related to interpersonal
conflicts between rival gang
members, and drugs often play a
central role in these altercations.
But despite strict gun control policies in the Windy City, it
seems that drugs and gang-related conflict will continue
to fuel Chicago's murder rate, begging the idea that it's
not gun control Chicago needs: it's drug control.
Chicago: A US Hometown War Zone

As of June, 2012, the number of homicides in Chicago
since 2001 numbered more than 5,000. 2001 was the
first year that American troops entered Afghanistan, and
since the inception of operations there approximately
2,000 US troops have been killed. These numbers
indicate that Chicago's homicide rates are more than
double the rates of troops killed in an established Middle-
Eastern war zone. (1)

How could this be happening in a city with more than
12,000 police officers? The answer lies in Chicago's long
history of gang wars, going all the way back to the
Prohibition and mobsters like Al Capone, Bugs Moran
and Dion O'Banion.

Over the last 70 years gangs have remained a part of
Chicago, and although gang members and styles have
changed, primary sources of income have not, with drugs
being the most important source of gang revenue. In the
80's and 90's Chicago's gangs were mostly young black
men ruling over a vast and well-connected empire
buoyed largely on sales of crack-cocaine.

Fortunately, Chicago police were successful in cracking
down on gang leaders and fracturing gangs into less
powerful and seemingly disorganized groups. However,
this strategy seems to be at least partly responsible for
the current high rate of gang-related homicides
considering that there are now more gang factions in the
city than ever before. And because the manufacture and
sale of illicit drugs is still the primary source of gang
income, violence is often not far away. (2)

However, many people believe that it's not gang wars
specifically that are directly causing the high rate of
murders. Although the deaths often involve gang
members, the shootings are generally not about "gang
business" - at least not initially. In a story for Chicago
Tonight titled: Are Chicago Murders all Gang Related?
Natalie Moore uncovers a concept of gang-associated
homicide that goes something like this:

*Gang member #1 feels slighted by rival gang member X
over an interpersonal conflict

*Gang member #1 makes derogatory remarks about rival
gang member X

*Gang member X retaliates by shooting rival gang
member #1 and anyone standing nearby

*Soon after, gang members supporting gang member #1
make a retaliatory attack on the rival gang

*Retaliations alternate back and forth, sometimes
culminating in multiple, separate but connected
shootings throughout the course of a day
In the process, innocent bystanders are sometimes shot
and killed, and police often erroneously cite their deaths
as gang-related. (3)

What law enforcement efforts have made clear is that the
binding glue of Chicago's splintered gangs isn't fraternity
or respect, and it definitely isn't a sense of security. It's all
about drugs. Using drugs together, selling drugs,
manufacturing drugs, engaging in crimes to procure
more drugs; this is the moral fabric that many gang
members are cut from.

The reality is that most gang related killings aren't worth
the offense supposedly committed, indicating a populace
that is hasty and paranoid. Add drugs to this picture and
it's easy to see how things get blown out of proportion in
the Windy City.

(1) Chicago Homicides Outnumber U.S. Troop Killings in
Afghanistan Huffington Post 06/16/2012 http://

(2) Belkin, Douglas Chicago Hunts for Answers to Gang
Killings The Wall Street Journal 07/12/2012 http://

(3) Moore, Natalie Are Chicago Murders all Gang
Related? Chicago Tonight 09/25/2012
Don't become a statistic or a story on the news about
another drug casualty: do what's right to save the life of
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This article and information is brought to you by James
F. Davis.
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