It was the most violent weekend in the deadliest month in Chicago in nearly 20 years.
From Friday through Sunday, nine people were shot to death, and 61 were injured by gunfire. One of the victims was Nykea Aldridge, a 32-year-old mother of four who was pushing a baby stroller in South Side Parkway Gardens when she was hit in the head by a stray bullet. She died soon after.
Gun violence is ravaging America’s second-largest city. The Wall Street Journal, citing Chicago Police Department data, reports that since January 1, there have been at least 425 gun homicides in the city, surpassing the total for all of last year. More more than 2,700 people have been shot, according to the Gun Violence Archive (GVA), which uses news reports to tabulate shooting numbers. (The Chicago Tribune calculates an even higher number of victims, more than 2,800).
In a bad year, August was especially grim. More than 400 people were shot in the city last month, and 76 were killed, according to GVA — the most since 1997. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has blamed the spike on an increase in gang activity, and has called for stricter gun restrictions. On Tuesday, he said he would make a “major address” on gun violence in mid-September.
The surge in shootings has made national headlines and become a point of contention in the presidential campaign. The city’s black population, the most vulnerable to gun violence, is on the decline, as residents with the means to do so leave for the suburbs and other states. The African Americans who stay are afflicted by grossly unequal rates of violence: People who live in neighborhoods on the city’s south and west sides are up to five times more likely to be shot and killed as the average Chicagoan. The disparity between the most dangerous communities and those that are the wealthiest, and whitest, is greater still. In some places in the city, homicides are a weekly occurrence. In others, they practically never happen at all.
Chicago has recorded more homicides this year than New York City and Los Angeles combined. According to New York Police Department crime statistics through August 21, New York has recorded 222 homicides for 2016 to date. The Los Angeles Police Department reported 176.
To put these numbers in better perspective: There were 4.1 homicides per 100,000 New Yorkers in 2015, and 17.3 per 100,000 Chicagoans. There were twice as many homicides in Chicago than in New York, even though New York has a population about three times as large as Chicago’s, as The Trace previously reported.
In Greater Grand Crossing, the neighborhood that includes South Side Parkway Gardens, where Aldridge was killed, the homicide rate was 55 per 100,000 in 2015, approximately 12 times the national average.
Most gunshot victims in Chicago die in relative anonymity, their death marked by brief news item, and mourned only by family and friends. Aldridge, though, had a connection to a celebrity: She is a cousin of NBA star Dwyane Wade.
Wade spoke out about the killing on Twitter. “My cousin was killed today in Chicago. Another act of senseless gun violence. 4 kids lost their mom for NO REASON. Unreal. #EnoughIsEnough,” he wrote.
My cousin was killed today in Chicago. Another act of senseless gun violence. 4 kids lost their mom for NO REASON. Unreal. #EnoughIsEnough
— DWade (@DwyaneWade) August 27, 2016
Less than three hours later, another Chicagoan was shot to death.
[Photo: Timothy Hiatt/Getty Images]