My colleague Nicole Gelinas and I recorded a podcast for City Journal recently about recent developments in New York and Chicago. She talked about New York’s approval of congestion pricing and I covered the Chicago mayoral election. If the audio player doesn’t display for you, click over to listen on Soundcloud.
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Cover image credit: Daniel Schwen, CC BY-SA 4.0
Violent crime isn’t “primarily in the south and west side” of Chicago. It’s ALMOST ENTIRELY in the south and southwest sides of Chicago. It’s falling because it’s simply being crowded out by the growth of the ‘new economy’ in Chicago. Criminals are simply losing their social and geographic basis of operation. The actions of the police have had little to do with it.
Is that really true, though? There are vast areas of Chicago that still are in no way participating in this ephemeral “new economy”.
As impressive as the Loop, Near West Side, Near South Side, and North Side are….????
Now…could simple population decline be a contributing factor? Overall population in Chicago is stagnant or falling…and much of this is occurring in these same “Industrial Era” neighborhoods and the segregated Black Belt. So that might be one aspect where your speculation is true. Is a teenage potential recruit likely to join a Southside gang if his family has relocated to Texas or North Carolina? 🙂
Yes it really is. http://gis.chicagopolice.org/CLEARMap_crime_sums/startPage.htm. Depopulation is CAUSED by the new economy. It drives out those who cannot participate in the new economy to make room for those who can. None of these factors are independent of another other of these factors. The new economy does this through increasing taxes to pay for high quality services that the new economy uses and the old economy doesn’t. It does this through gentrification, which is now rapidly sweeping south and west from the Loop and north sides of Chicago. It does this by literally creating impossible situations for the poor and working classes so they literally die trying to hold onto their position in a city that no longer has a place for them. That is the cause of gang violence. What Chicago is doing today is analogous to a ship maintaining it’s forward movement while the entire crew is replaced mid-voyage. I’m increasingly confident that Chicago will be able to pull this off.
But I think in the short-term there is a substitution in the type and place of crime – yes their may be numerically less incidents occuring in the South and West side, but in a way, community policing, plus criminal justice reform (google Kim Foxx) and the de-emphasis of large gangs vs. crews has led to more rampant instances of car-jacking, assault and wilding in the well-to-do areas.
Please go to places like Crime in Wrigleyville and Boystown (CWB) and Second City Cop to get a more realistic picture.
To Matt, do you feel that “crime against tourists and well-to-do” are a growing pain to be expected and tolerated as the dynamic center expands into the inner city ad displaces long time residents (many from areas accessible from the southern Red Line that wont see gentrification for at least a generation), or do you feel that increases in this sort of crime could dampen the rate of growth and resident turnover and slow down the great Chicago added-value urbanization phenomenom?
The most “realistic picture” of crime is the one found in uniform crime statistics. They don’t show crime decreasing in the areas in which it is most concentrated or spreading into areas where it is lowest. They show crime, particularly violent crime, retreating to the south and southwest away from central Chicago. They show it increasing in areas beyond Chicago’s southern border. The clip you linked is a desperate rear-guard action on the part of young people who are expressing their rage at a city that is ratcheting up the economic, political, and social pressure on them to leave more and more intensely everyday. Crime isn’t a cause, it’s an effect. No one independently and spontaneously decides that they WANT to exist outside legitimate institutions for the hell of it. They only do so in reaction to the economic and political institutions they confront. Economics are the ultimate cause of crime.
Crime in Chicago is caused by uneducated/poor black men who don’t want to leave Chicago but who understand that Chicago has no legitimate economic role for them. In response to this realization, they resort to illegitimate means to remain in Chicago. The issue is ultimately about remaining in Chicago. Drugs, guns, and gangs are just the means to an end…remaining in Chicago. If they were purely rational, they’d all leave for the booming cities of the South where their labor would have value in the legitimate economy. Yet, they desperately want to remain in Chicago. They engage in individual and organized crime because it’s the only way they can see to remain in a city that is working harder and harder to get them to leave. I see nothing to suggest that that pressure wont’ continue for years to come.