Concentrated Poverty Correlates With Criminality: Homicide Rates Remain High in Chicago

By Nicole Sroka and Miriam Torres

Philip Magana was only 13 years old when he fell victim to gun violence, an issue that plagues many in Chicago.

While coming back from a grocery store one March evening, a man shot at him multiple times in a gangway. Out of those shots three of them hit his torso while the other, his back.

His shooter, who was a gang-member, believed that Philip was also a member of a gang even though he wasn’t. As time progressed, this experience essentially shaped Magana’s view on his community and the people.

“I cant even be safe in my own neighborhood, I have to go downtown or to the suburbs to feel safe and I’m sure people of the West Side and South Side feel the same way,” he said.

The flashing lights of police cars and ambulances speeding down a busy street is a daily scene for Chicago’s South Side and West Side neighborhoods, and the sounds of the sirens and gunshots that flood the areas come as no surprise to local residents.

While gun violence is well-documented on the South Side, the West Side — which harbors criminal “hotspots” — sometimes gets overlooked. Both community areas – the South and West sides –  have two predominant sociological factors in common: concentrated poverty and lack of adequate resources, sources say.

The chart highlights the number of homicides reported in the city per community area from January 2018 through January 2019. Of the 607 reported homicides, 352 occurred in South Side neighborhoods.

The underlying problem of violence within these communities stems from the need of neighborhood fundings, better education, and lack of access to healthcare resources such as clinics and pharmacies.

Dr. John Hagedorn, James J. Stukel Fellow, former Great Cities Institute and Criminology, Law, and Justice Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, emphasized that violence is correlated to concentrated poverty. The issues of gun violence, homicide, and anything related to criminality within the West and South sides stem from the issue of concentrated poverty.

“The same issues still keep coming up,” Hagedorn said. “High rates of violence come along with high rates of concentrated poverty. There is nothing new.”

According to Magana, “People are hungry to work and hungry to hustle, but with no one investing in these areas, people are drug dealing, robbing and committing violent crimes because they are struggling to survive…but unless you live here, you don’t know what it’s like”.

A dramatic spike in homicide rates plagued the city in 2016 with 762 homicides, the largest since 704 in 1998. Although homicide levels have slightly decreased since 2016, 2018 had 607 reported homicides, a 6.62% decrease from the previous year.

The graphic displays the number of homicides that were reported in Chicago since 1990. The year with the highest amount of reported homicides was 1992 with 943 homicides.

Combined, the four Southern community areas of Chicago – The South, Far Southeast, Southwest, and Far Southwest sides – have amassed 352 homicide reports between January 2018 and January 2019 while the West Side had 182. The remaining five city neighborhoods have collectively amassed less than 70 homicides in the time between January 2018 and January 2019, including 16 on the Northwest side and 14 in the other North Side neighborhoods.

In academic journal “Examining Race and Ethnicity in the Context of General Strain Theory, Depression, and Delinquency, Deviant Behavior”, Jennifer H. Peck mentioned, based Robert Agnew’s general strain theory, how people of color are presented as offenders due to their exposure of socially disorganized neighborhoods which lead to criminal activity.

“African Americans are overrepresented as offenders because they are more involved in experiences in the social environment that can lead to criminal offending (e.g., being a victim of abuse, chronic unemployment, working in the secondary labor market, criminal victimization, living in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods, and racial discrimination)” (Peck 708, 2013).

In most recent years, Chicago has been listed as one of the most segregated cities in America. A report by CBS Chicago shows that 18 Chicago neighborhoods have a population of 90% African Americans. The West and South sides are heavily populated with Hispanic/Latinos and African Americans, while the North Side of the city is mostly white.

The Chicago Tribune referenced a study, previously conducted by The Apartment List, which highlighted how Chicago is the 13th most segregated metro area in the United States with “76 percent of the region’s African-Americans required to move to reach complete integration in 2016.”

Not only are the neighborhoods segregated by race, they are also areas that face extreme poverty and lack necessary resources. Abandoned homes, vacant lots, an abundance of liquor stores, and trash-filled streets compromise the West and South Side neighborhoods.

West Garfield Park: Corner of St. Louis and Jackson. Photo by Miriam Torres.

Isaiah Hinton, a 22-year-old former student at the Illinois Institute of Art and current content creator who lived in East Garfield Park for 12 years, said the West Side “doesn’t look good, it doesn’t look neat” and is filled with “broken houses,” and essentially looking “like the stereotypical version of a ‘hood.”

Phillip Magana, 22, who grew up on the South side, relocated, to the West Side in the Garfield Park neighborhood two years ago.

He spoke about the demographics and the socioeconomic factors he believes are contributing factors to the homicide rates in his area.

“There is an empty lot in every corner, it’s very dirty, there is nothing but broken glass everywhere and most of this is liquor bottles,” he said. “There are liquor stores on every corner and gas stations are on every corner.”

Both men’s descriptions of the West Side serve as prime examples of how deprived the neighborhoods are in terms of financial resources and basic services.

Many city leaders place the blame for gun violence on gangs and gang rivalries. During a 2018 press conference, former CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson insinuated that violence occurring in Chicago neighborhoods is due to gang rivalries.

“A lot of those gatherings probably had a gang nexus to it and rival gangs saw them out there,” he said.

Hagedorn disagreed. He stressed the importance of dispelling the theory of violence in Chicago relating to gang violence.

“What’s important about violence is that we have to get away from this gang stuff…[the issue of] concentrated poverty, and unless we deal with that we’re not going to deal with violence,”  Hagedorn said.

Living in areas rooted in concentrated poverty can impact the lives of the people living in the affected community. The violence in the environment can make people fear for their and their close ones protection: some may feel like they have no choice to survive on the street.

Having a weapon either in the house or on their person gives them a sense of safety and eases their anxiety or fears surrounding being a victim of a violent crime.

“If I’m a victim of gun violence or someone else is, we are going to become more self aware and more angry of our surroundings. This is when people start to carry weapons… these are ways how people become criminals because they carry guns, but they have no choice. They carry these guns for protection”, Magana concluded.

This infographic demonstrates the differences in demographics within the Englewood and Garfield Park communities.

Top 10 Most Visited National Parks in The United States Based On 2018 Attendance Rates

The United States is known for its bustling cities with impressive infrastructure, though, it also harbors scenic land that is protected in national parks. There are 58 national parks spread across the United States and its territories, however, according to a ranked list created by The National Geographic, the most popular parks range from The Great Smoky Mountains to Glacier National Park based on 2018 attendance rates.

National parks were established to protect nature, preserve wildlife, and present remarkable environments that emit both beauty and serenity. Individuals who intend to immerse themselves in nature are encouraged to visit these national parks. According to The Alamo, the peak seasons for tourists visiting national parks range from fall through winter: Yosemite’s peak seasons are fall through winter whereas Acadia’s peak seasons are spring through winter.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which borders Tennessee and North Carolina, ranks No. 1 as the most visited national park in the United States amassing a total of 11,421,200 visitors. Established in 1934, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is surrounded by a series of streams and rivers, diverse wildlife consisting of black bears and wolves, and over 1,500 different types of wild flowers. The park itself covers over 520,000 acres of land allowing visitors to view historic peaks and hike through many iconic trails like Rainbow Falls.

All of the national parks located within the United States are embedded with unique landmarks ranging from the Grand Canyon to Old Faithful. Each park offers visitors incredible landscapes and opportunities to learn about the importance of preserving nature. Those who are enthusiasts of flora and fauna are encouraged to visit national parks in the United States where they will be met with tranquility and stunning scenery.

Five Historic Hotels To Visit In Chicago Over The Summer

The city of Chicago harbors incredible buildings with astounding architecture. In addition to skyscrapers like The Willis Tower and landmarks like The Chicago Water Tower, there are several historic hotels in Chicago ranging from the famed Congress Hotel to the breathtaking lakeside Drake Hotel. Downtown Chicago is home to many historic hotels which all possess unique histories that contribute to the dynamic culture of the city.

The following is a tour of five of Chicago’s historic hotels all located in the Downtown area.

Summer is approaching which means tourism rates are about to increase within the city. According to a U.S. News & World Report, summer is one of the best seasons to visit Chicago: June, July, and August are the most popular months to travel amongst tourists. High tourism interest leads to higher hotel rates and less room vacancies, thus is it encouraged for tourists to reserve their hotels three to four weeks prior to their arrival.

These historic hotels have been visited by the likes of former presidents and politicians, celebrities Marilyn Monroe and Walt Disney, and mobsters like Al Capone. Embedded with unique pasts, brilliant architecture, and impeccable decor each hotel mentioned in the tour offers its visitors memorable experiences encompassing the progression of culture and preservation of luxury living.

Chicago’s Robbery Levels Were The Highest In Illinois Based On 2017-18 UCR Data

The legal definition of a robbery, according to Cornell Law School, is a crime committed by an individual who unlawfully takes the property of another through the use of force or threat. Illinois is composed of several large cities including Chicago, Aurora, and Joliet. In 2017, Chicago was the largest city in Illinois which accumulated the highest amount of robbery offenses that were reported to law enforcement authorities.

The infographic above displays several of the largest cities in Illinois and the amount of robberies reported in each area between January 2017 and June 2018. Chicago was the largest city which had the highest amount of robbery reports.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation collects and presents statistical data pertaining to crime in their annual publication of the Uniform Crime Report. According to a 2017-18 report from the UCR’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division, Chicago had the highest amount of robberies reported in Illinois with a total of 4,631 reports made to local authorities. Rockford amassed 151 robbery reports which was relatively low compared to Chicago. Though, there are drastic differences between the populations of the cities and robbery reports: the city of Chicago had a population of 2,706,171 people whereas the population of Rockford was 146,770.

In 2018, robberies in Chicago began to increase significantly. An article published by the Chicago Tribune highlights how Chicago had the highest first quarter tally of robberies with 86 robbery reports produced within the first three months of 2018. Superintendent Eddie Johnson issued a statement regarding the efforts of the Chicago Police Department to combat an increase in robberies by assigning officers to respond to areas in the city where robberies are likely to occur: particularly areas like Downtown Chicago and the Loop. One question, however, is whether there is a correlation between cities with high populations and a large amount of robbery reports.

Aurora had a population of 201,599 people in 2018 with 49 robbery reports whereas Springfield had a population of 115,568 with 86 robbery reports. Certain cities with larger populations had less robberies reported compared to cities with lower populations and vice versa. Overall, it is unclear if robbery report totals depend on the population of a city. Different variables – notably geographic, demographic, and social factors – can be researched to determine if they influence how likely an individual is to commit a robbery or a different crime.

Jussie Smollett’s Staged Attack Attracted More Attention Than R. Kelly’s Sexual Abuse Allegations

Two prominent figures in popular culture, Jussie Smollett and R. Kelly, faced criminal charges in February. The Chicago Police Department arrested Smollett on Feb. 21 and charged him with felony disorderly conduct for supposedly staging his own attack and filing a false police report. On Feb. 22 R. Kelly turned himself in to police after being charged with criminal sexual abuse. Based on an analysis of Google search data, there was higher interest in Jussie Smollett compared to R. Kelly despite both men being charged and arrested by the Chicago Police Department one day apart from one another.

This chart presents the public’s interest regarding the arrests of Jussie Smollett and R. Kelly over the last 30 days according to an analysis of Google search data. Based on the data, Smollett was searched online more often than Kelly.

Both Smollett and Kelly are known celebrities within the city. Smollett is an actor on a television show based in the city, Empireand Kelly is a Chicago native and a Grammy award winning artist. Attention was placed on Smollett in February due to reports of the actor being the victim of a hate crime that occurred in January being false. An article published by The Washington Post mentions that two brothers allegedly attacked Smollett: it was later revealed that Smollett paid the brothers to stage the attack and then produced a false police report which resulted in his arrest on Feb. 21. The graphic above illustrates that Jussie Smollett accumulated more searches compared to R. Kelly even though they were arrested at a similar time. There is an overlap in amount of searches due to both men being arrested on similar dates.

Charged with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, Kelly turned himself in to authorities on Feb. 22 as reported in an article by USA Today. Kelly had been accused of sexually abusing women and underaged girls on prior occasions, though, he repeatedly denied the claims. Kelly and Smollett were arrested one day apart from one another and based on the Google search data, Smollett was searched more often than Kelly. It is likely that Smollett’s scandal was searched more than Kelly’s due to Smollett allegedly coordinating his attack as a publicity stunt to express his dissatisfaction with the salary he was earning on Empire.

An Analysis Of The Public Interest On Jason Van Dyke

Former Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke amassed a notable amount of media attention over the past two months. According to an analysis of Google search data, there was an increase in the amount of individual searches on Van Dyke on the days of his trial, his sentencing, and the day reports revealed that Van Dyke was physically assaulted in prison compared to police brutality searches.

Interest in Jason Van Dyke has risen in the months of his trial, sentencing, and when he was assaulted by an inmate. Information presented in the chart is based on an analysis of Google search data beginning on Sep. 17, 2018, when the trial began.

Jason Van Dyke shot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald on the evening of Oct. 14, 2014. Based on a timeline of events reported by the Associated Press, in 2015 Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez called for the release of dash-cam footage of the events that transpired on the night of McDonald’s death: Van Dyke shot McDonald a total of 16 times. Nearly four years after the fatal shooting of McDonald, Van Dyke was found guilty of second-degree murder with 16 counts of aggravated battery on Oct. 5, 2018. The graphic above illustrates how there was a dramatic increase of individuals searching Van Dyke online in the months during his trial as well and when the verdict was delivered. After the verdict, the public interest of Van Dyke began to decrease until the day of his sentencing: on Jan. 18 Van Dyke was sentenced to serve 81 months in prison. Reports of Van Dyke being beaten by an inmate in prison arose on Feb. 13 and resulted in an increase of searches regarding the situation.

The act of shooting an unarmed individual an astounding 16 times has been regarded by others as an act of police brutality. It has also been noted, based on an article by The Chicago Tribune, that Van Dyke has become a “synonym for police brutality”. The act of police brutality is defined as an officer using an unnecessary and/or excessive amount of force upon an individual: in a span of 14 seconds Van Dyke shot McDonald 16 times. Despite the actions of Van Dyke consisting of excessive force, there was no correlation between online searches of Van Dyke and police brutality. According to a Google search analysis of the past seven months, Jason Van Dyke sparked a greater overall public interest in comparison to police brutality.

Patrick Kane En Route To A Possible Career-High Scoring Season

Patrick Kane may be performing his best season to date with the Chicago Blackhawks. In the 2015-16 season, Kane amassed 46 goals and 106 points resulting in it being the highest scoring season of his career. As of Mar. 4, 2019, Kane has scored 40 goals and earned 94 points, all prior to the Stanley Cup Playoff season which begins in April.

The graphic displays the total number of goals and points accumulated by Patrick Kane per season beginning with the 2007-08 season. Note: Kane’s best scoring season was the 2015-16 season. All data presented is as of 03/04/2019.

Despite the Blackhawks being ranked No.7 in the Central division, Patrick Kane is possibly on his way to ending the 2018-19 season as a career-best. Compared to top players like Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov and Washington’s Alex Ovechkin, Kane ranks as the No.2 player with most goals created with a total of 36.0. On leaderboards that reflect total points and goals earned per game, Kane ranks No. 2 amongst other prominent players. Ever since being drafted in 2007, Kane has been regarded as one of the best players in the National Hockey League: Kane was ranked No. 12 on a NHL Network panel that decided the 50 best players in the NHL.

Kane ended the 2017-18 season with 27 goals and 76 points and the goal and point totals were significantly lower than the 2015-16 season which led to news outlets and fans questioning if Kane was able to perform at the peak ability he once did. One article written by a fan on Second City Hockey – a website that allows hockey analysts and fans to create blog posts – mentioned how Kane’s goal totals were “trending downward” compared to previous seasons. Though, one slow season did not necessarily stunt Kane’s performing ability. Kane has been working alongside Blackhawks centre Jonathan Toews in an effort to help the Blackhawks clinch a run in the playoffs. Though, even with having talented players like Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews on the team, how likely are the Blackhawks to gain a position in the Stanley Cup Playoffs?

According to Hockey Reference – a website collecting professional hockey statistics – the Blackhawks have a 2.1 percent probability of winning a wild card spotthe Minnesota Wild are predicted to win the wild card spot in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs with probability of 40.5 percent. Regardless if the Blackhawks make it to the playoffs, Patrick Kane will end the season as one of the highest scoring seasons of his career.