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

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