Chicago's rising homicide toll — 500 as of Friday, a 17 percent increase over last year — has been a looming shadow over Chicago, plaguing residents and the city's leadership for much of the year, reports the Chicago Tribune. Although Chicago had almost twice as many homicides 20 years ago as this year, the increase in violent deaths represents a backslide for a city that Mayor Rahm Emanuel he wants to move forward.
With Chicago's homicide rate exceeding those in some other major cities like Los Angeles and New York, Emanuel, ever mindful of the city and his administration's image, has seen the city's violence attract unwanted national attention. Since taking the helm last year, Emanuel and his hand-picked police superintendent, Garry McCarthy, have made safer streets a top priority, with McCarthy declaring "the murder rate in this city is way too high." A particularly bloody winter in early 2012 has kept both men on the defensive, and residents on edge. In McCarthy's view, the proliferation of guns on Chicago's streets, which he said is unlike any other city, and the division of gangs into smaller factions are to blame for the homicide surge.