By Jon Lin
As the new year begins, 762 Chicagoans will not get to see 2017. These seven hundred and sixty two lives lost in 2016 marks the deadliest year the windy city has seen in nearly two decades, according to a report by CNN. This number is more than an 50% increase from the 480 lives lost in 2015 and marks the third consecutive year in which the city of Chicago has seen an increase in the amount of homicides (2015’s total was slightly more than the 411 homicides that occurred in 2014). With 762 deaths, 3,550 shooting incidents, and 4,331 shooting victims, the violence in 2016 is the first time the annual slaying rate soared in consecutive years since violent crimes surged in the late 1980s and early 1990s with the arrival of crack cocaine in about 1988.
A contributing factor to the recent surging violence is the 2014 shooting of Laquan McDonald, a seventeen year old that was gunned down by sixteen shots from veteran Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke. Van Dyke, who has had 20 citizen complaints against him since 2001 including a complaint that involved verbal abuse with use of a racial slur, told an investigator that McDonald was “swinging the knife in an aggressive, exaggerated manner” and that McDonald “raised the knife across chest” and pointed it at Van Dyke, according to one police report. These accounts differ greatly from the the police dashcam footage that was released on November 24, 2015, after multiple requests for the Chicago police department and the city of Chicago to release the footage were denied but eventually released due to a FOIA request and a subsequent lawsuit against the city for withholding the video from the public. WARNING: the video below shows graphic content.