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Chicago had 769 homicides, 3,261 shootings in record-breaking 2020

Police work the scene where eight people were shot in Chicago. (Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune/TNS)
January 05, 2021

The city of Chicago, Ill. recorded a staggering 769 homicides in 2020, a 55 percent increase from 2019, police data showed.

The jump in killings puts last year among the highest in Chicago’s history, reversing a three-year trend, the Associated Press reported. The city also logged 3,261 shootings in 2020, a significant spike from 2,140 shootings in 2019.

Deadly shootings jumped by 53 percent, with December alone totaling 50, more than twice the number during the same month a year earlier.

ABC 7 reported that 78 percent of Chicago’s gun violence victims were black, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office. Over 16,000 deaths were also reported in the county in 2020, a record due in large part to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Memorial Day weekend in Chicago was the deadliest in five years, recording 49 victims of gun violence, including 10 who died as a result of shootings. On May 31 alone, 18 homicides were recorded.

The deadly Chicago weekend occurred within days of the death of George Floyd while in custody of the Minneapolis Police Department. Six days after Floyd’s death, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said 65,000 calls for service were received at Chicago’s 911 emergency center, totaling 50,000 more than a typical day.

The spike in violent crime across the country has been fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic, government lockdowns and other restrictions that created an economic crisis and civil unrest.

“Frustration, anger, unfortunately some of that is playing out in violence,” she said this week. “A lot of things that are manifestations of trauma and mental health challenges have been in full bloom.”

According to Police Superintendent David Brown, 2020 was the “perfect storm” for violence, adding that fighting the uptick in violence and protecting the public was “all-hands-on-deck effort,” Fox News reported.

“The criminal justice ecosystem, however, was profoundly impacted and disrupted by the global coronavirus pandemic and the death of George Floyd,” he said. “Our Chicago police officers faced an unprecedented set of circumstances in contending with a spike in violent crime, made even more difficult by having to contend with a health pandemic while facing extended periods of heightened civil unrest and looting.”

Brown said 79 officers were fired at throughout 2020, compared to 22 in 2019.

“Over the summer, we pivoted our crimefighting strategy to a citywide approach toward deploying resources to areas experiencing high levels of violence,” he continued. “This strategic shift has had a positive impact on public safety and has decreased the pace of monthly murders that had accelerated during the first half of 2020.”

Chicago’s first homicide of 2021 occurred on New Year’s Day when a man was shot and killed in the city’s Bronzeville neighborhood.