Tale of Two Chicagos: Violence Plagues City’s South, West Sides

Tony Dokoupil, NBC News, April 21, 2014

After church and Easter dinner with relatives, 11-year-old Tymisha Washington wanted to play before the street lights came on. She joined four friends–none more than 15 years old–at a park near her house on Chicago’s South Side. Then a dark car pulled up to the group, and a passenger asked the kids about their gang affiliation. They have none, their parents told police, but the questioner opened fire anyhow, sending a bullet into Washington’s chin and another into her lung.

For more than a year now, the Chicago Police department has been on a triumphant run. Murders fell almost 20 percent citywide last year, according to department data, and the first quarter of 2014 saw the fewest murders in any first quarter since 1958.

But then the mercury started to rise.

Over the last two weekends–the first warm ones in the city this year–shootings spiked. Washington was one of more than 70 people wounded (she’s still listed as critical). More than 10 others were killed.

“A bad week,” Police Supt. Garry McCarthy told NBC News. “It doesn’t wipe out what’s happened over the past two years, but it certainly is a wake-up call that we have a lot of work to do.”

McCarthy has ordered stepped up patrols in communities hardest hit by the violence. He has overhauled the department’s gang strategy, relying on real-time intelligence and the new science of social network analysis to stop the next bullet before it’s fired. He has also welcomed the creation of a 16-member, Chicago-based task force of federal prosecutors, announced on Monday by the U.S Attorney’s Office, whose sole goal is to lock up violent criminals.

But for any of this to help, it will need to change trend lines that have been telling the same grim story through more than two decades, numerous mayors and police superintendents and the rise and fall of the crack cocaine epidemic. It’s a classic tale of two Chicagos, one of them safe and prosperous, the other one dangerous and poor–and both of them growing more so.

“We’ve talked about homicide in Chicago at least one million times but I don’t think this has come up,” according Daniel Hertz, a prominent blogger and public policy graduate student at the University of Chicago, who has crunched the citywide data on homicides and income. The “something” is how the murder rate has fallen overall, but fallen unevenly.

The North Side experienced huge 20-year drops in the homicide rate. In Rogers Park it was down more than 80 percent. The parts of the South and West sides of the city closest to downtown–Bronzeville, the Loop–also got a lot safer. “But most of the rest actually got worse,” says Hertz, including the parts of the city (Englewood, Garfield Park) that were already among the most dangerous.


NBC News confirmed the idea of two Chicagos in an analysis last year. Between 2007 and 2012 the murder rate in the most dangerous of Chicago’s official community areas was as much as 80 times higher than the rate in the tonier, quieter area’s Chicago’s north side. We’ve all heard of income inequality. Hertz calls this: “murder inequality.”

It’s unclear what’s causing it, but Hertz points to another troubling trend. In a new research published late last month, he looked at 40 years of median family income data in Chicago, broken down by race and neighborhood. What he found makes it possible, he argues, “to watch Chicago’s middle class vanish before your eyes.” And the areas among those hit hardest by falling wages? You guessed it: the neighborhoods on the city’s murderous South and West sides, which are disproportionately black and brown.



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  • First off, we now know the falling murder rates were a lie.

    Second, the matter isn’t income inequality or murder inequality, it’s DNA inequality. The south and west sides are full of third world people, the north side (or parts of it) are populated by first world people.

    • archer

      Exactly, the murder and crime stats are fudged in a lot of cities.

  • Jacqonta Green

    Bro, yo, u b right on. My bruthas in da windy city be swingin on vines n sheet. jus sayin

  • ncpride

    It’s unclear what’s causing it…..

    Give me a break here. Everyone and their mama knows exactly what ’causes’ it, whether they admit it openly or not. Chicago has a black problem, and it’s as simple as that.

    • MBlanc46

      Boy, do we ever.

      • r j p

        It seems to keep getting worse daily.
        I live on a street with an East address.
        100 yards from the lake.
        But every time I go out it seems there are more bucks roaming the street on which I live, all seemingly looking for potential victims.

    • willbest

      Well beyond the obvious, the question is why is this year on track to be above last year, because the minority population didn’t spike

  • Luca

    Oh my, the new liberal “cause celebre” of “income inequality” will soon surpass Global Warming as the cause of all the ills of mankind.

    • APaige

      It is now ‘climate change’-they have all the bases covered. If its cold in June its because of climate change if it is really hot in June its climate change. The earth’s climate is always changing.

      • Alexandra1973

        Heads they win, tails we lose.

  • Einsatzgrenadier

    The best indicator of a city’s crime rate is the percentage of the population that is black and Hispanic. The higher that percentage, the higher the crime rate.

  • APaige

    Spring is in the air…and blacks are killing everywhere. If an area is poor and black and the weather warms up the cause of violence is either poverty or warm temperatures. What about poor White areas in summer? The only difference is race.

    • borogirl54

      The ghetto residents claim that it is hopeless that causes all of the problems in their community. There are no jobs in the ghetto, there are boarded up houses and drug trafficking.

      • MBlanc46

        There are no jobs in the ghetto because no one in his/her right mind would try to do business there. The houses are boarded up because the Negroes destroy them and there’s drug trafficking because using and dealing drugs is what Negroes do.

        • IstvanIN

          Yup, open a supermarket, hire the local darkies and before you know it it is out of business from assorted shortages.

          • r j p

            I saw on the news a story about a Walmart Neighborhood Market that opened here. It didn’t have greeters, it had armed security guards.

        • r j p

          Every White in America should take the train out of LaSalle Street Station and pay attention to the view.
          Or maybe get a tour of the Westside. It looks Detroited. Nothing has been rebuilt since the riots. Empty lots and board-ups everywhere.
          “Liberal” Oak Park has blocked off (dead-ended) almost all streets from Chicago.


          • Alexandra1973

            I’ve been through Chicago. I think the drivers are more insane there than in Detroit. I was almost robbed by some black guy at the Greyhound station.

          • r j p

            You took Blackhound?

          • MBlanc46

            When I lived in Hyde Park I sometimes used to drive home from downtown via Michigan Avenue rather than LSD. Some parts of the South and West Sides look like the set from some futuristic dystopian movie.

  • So CAL Snowman

    “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age
    of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it
    was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the
    season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of
    despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were
    all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way”

    Sounds about right for the present day. Who knew Dickens actually lived in 21st century Chicongo?

  • HJ11

    As long as it’s Blacks killing Blacks or other non-Whites I don’t care. I practice non-interference in the business of the dark peoples of this planet.

  • FozzieT

    “The North Side experienced huge 20-year drops in the homicide rate.”

    That’s because they shut down the one public housing complex on the North side, Cabrini-Green. Once they did that, the residents (all black) moved to the South and West sides. Hence the immediate drop in homicide on the North side, and the rise on the South and West sides.

    • MBlanc46

      But it’s Rogers Park that they mention, which is a good distance away from Halsted and Division.

      • r j p

        Rogers Park is a sh!thole.

        • MBlanc46

          It’s a bit out of my orbit. I gather parts of Evanston are ghetto, too. As curri suggests, sooner or later those places are going to gentrify too (barring further economic collapse).

      • curri

        Isn’t there any gentrification going on in Rogers Park? After all, it’s on the lakefront. Then again, the reduction may be due to cleansing of blacks by Mexicans.

        • drwitchdoctor

          The reason (East) Rogers Park will never completely gentrify is that it’s home to large apartment complexes which are completely section 8. West Rogers Park (i.e, west of Western Avenue) is pretty solid. That’s where all the Orthodox Jews live, within walking distance of their temples.

    • r j p

      Cabrini still exists but on a smaller level (Cabrini Row-houses). There is another housing project just south of the North Avenue Brown Line stop.

    • Laura Dilworth

      they moved to the suburbs, rural areas-got housing vouchers

  • Low IQ, poor impulse control, high testosterone, and a president that celebrates punks and thugs like Trayvon. Mix in some rap and hip hop, also celebrated by His N*66*r in chief, and you’ve got the makings of a wave of gang killings the likes of which the world has not seen before. Thanks, Obama, you scum.

  • 48224
  • MBlanc46

    There’s another way to describe the “two Chicagos: black and white.

    • willbest

      The murder rate in the Hispanic areas is almost livable.

      • MBlanc46

        Young Hispanic males have a propensity to shoot at each other, too, but they’re choir boys compared to the Negroes.

    • r j p

      Four Chicagos: black, White, brown, and gay.

      • MBlanc46

        Tha’s not a bad taxonomy.

      • drwitchdoctor

        A good point: Gays are the second wave of gentrification, after young hipsters. They’re older and have money to buy rather than rent, but like hipsters, have no children (generally) to entrust to the unionized public school system. I’ve seen them convert several neighborhoods (usually hispanic) from bad to good-enough for white yuppies.

  • LACountyRedneck

    There aren’t two Chicagos. There’s a Chicago and a Chicongo.

  • Hallie Eva

    Does a rising temperature increase the White murder rate? Just asking.

  • Hallie Eva

    Hard to decipher his speech. The captioner could not seem to either; the titles were nonsensical.
    Get a clue; your race hustler “phoney” leaders have no magic. In fact, they are not interested in “empowering” you, even if they could. Their job is to hustle, divide, and incite.
    It is up to you and each and every brutha, dude.

  • BonV.Vant

    Cry me an “Old Man River”

  • BonV.Vant

    The worst airports that I have experienced in this country are the Chicago O’haire airport and the Atlanta airport. Both are staffed almost exclusively with these congoids . They are arrogant and rude. I have witnessed and experienced some extremely terrible treatment of white people that in the old days would have had a person fired on the spot. One example: a black driver, on one of those small vehicles that transport disabled or elderly passengers to their gates, was being extremely nasty and abusive to an elderly white lady who merely asked a question about which gate she was being taken to. Midway airport actually has white people working in many of the food establishments whereas O’Haire has almost none. The treatment one gets at Midway is FAR superior, even from the blacks because they know that they can’t contrast too sharply with the conduct of white workers.

    • r j p

      Chicago O’Hare has the busiest homeless center in the city.
      Why is there a homeless center in an airport?
      The homeless in Chicago like the Blue and Red lines because they are the longest.
      $2.25 to get on and you can ride all day and night, some stops have concession stands that you can go to without leaving the system.

    • Hallie Eva

      I used to always fly Delta. Not anymore because they employ mostly blacks as ground crew. Am not sure, but assume blacks are servicing the planes as well. Am not about to board aircraft touched by a team of black maintenance workers.

  • BonV.Vant

    Who cares, they are congoids, their minds are befuddled and all they understand is that they aren’t getting good enough gibs. Blacks will complain even when things are good anyway. WE should not be interested in their opinions at all. They are a low intelligent, animalistic population that has proven they are irrelevant to us.

  • shmo123

    “murder inequality.”

    Huh? What is that suppose to mean? It’s not funny, witty or clever, but it is stupid.

    “It’s unclear what’s causing it…”
    Perhaps if you’re completely blind, myopic or retarded, it might be unclear. To those of us with a modicum of common sense who weren’t born yesterday, it’s crystal clear. This kid goes to the U. of Chicago? I thought it was supposed to be a school with rigorous academic standards.

    • drwitchdoctor

      If you go to the University of Chicago, you *should* know better. Hyde Park is one of the few safe-ish neighborhoods in which you must have a car. You cannot ride public transportation after dark to get back home without taking your life in your own hands.

  • MystiKasT

    White neighborhoods – safe
    Black neighborhoods – deathzones

    Anyone surprised?