Last November we posted an editorial on how the City of Chicago, under the administration of Mayor Lori Lightfoot, closed its only Juvenile Intervention and Support Center (JISC). In December, Secure 1776 followed up with an analysis of carjackings and the connections to juvenile crime. Carjackings have spiked across the country since 2020. An escalating carjacking problem has been particularly noteworthy in urban areas. Many cities have experienced a continuing surge. But the problem is particularly evident in Chicago. Yesterday, 7 February 2022, Mayor Lightfoot held a press conference with Chicago Police Department (CPD) Superintendent David Brown, a representative from the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office and other officials. In the press conference, Mayor Lightfoot indicated that half of those arrested in connection to Chicago’s carjackings are juveniles. She also made an interesting statement on the cause of the rising juvenile crime connection – “remote learning.”
Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
Rising Carjackings in Chicago and Closed Schools
According to data from the City of Chicago, in 2019 there were 603 carjackings in the city. In 2020, that number spiked sharply to 1,413. In 2021, that number continued to rise and there were 1,851 carjackings in the city. According to the same City of Chicago data portal, in just January 2022 (a cold winter month) there were 165 carjackings. At that rate, 2022’s year-end total will exceed last year’s total. In our post last week, “Connect the Dots: One News Feed, Two Stories, One Cause,” we noted that many of our political elites and the media have sought to blame “the pandemic” for their increasing acceptance of lawlessness. In Mayor Lightfoot’s remarks on Chicago’s efforts to curb its carjacking epidemic, she made a connection between the pandemic and rising carjackings. As shown in the clip below, while she did not blame the virus (a common distraction), she did seek to associate rising carjackings to a pandemic response strategy – closed schools and remote learning.
In the press conference, the mayor correctly observed, “we began to see this rise in 2020.” Chicago’s increase in carjackings during 2020 was dramatic. They rose from the 603 in 2019 to 1,413 in 2020, which comprised a 134% single-year increase. Yes, we are all painfully aware that the Covid pandemic came to international attention in 2020. But, in 2020, relative to overall public safety, specifically violence, there was a far more direct and negative influence. We are all also painfully aware of the dramatic weakening of the police-community relationship that came in the aftermath of the George Floyd incident in Minneapolis. Our founder covered this issue with clarity in his defining article, “Tragedy-Free Policing or Else: The Need for Critical Thinking.” Relative to the demonization of policing that resulted, we recommend as well the article, “Demonizing the Police Breeds Lawlessness.”
Weakening the Law and It’s Response to Crime
In Illinois, like in several states, the highly-charged political environment that was election-year 2020, spawned extensive changes to the law relating to police authority and pre-trial detention. The impact of those changes continue to emerge. In the articles, “The Importance of ‘Us:’ The Failure of Being Cast as ‘Them‘” and “NewYork, NewYork: A Different Tune,” the dots to lawlessness are far more convincingly connected than is the case with the mayor’s connection to remote learning. During 2020, the nation’s police officers were cast by increasingly successful political forces into the role of “them,” and to an alarming degree the policing profession was separated from the communities it serves. That relationship is essential to overall public safety. Additionally, changes to the law and police procedures have made enforcement efforts far more challenging. Combined these factors have caused many officers to step back, resign, or retire. The truth of the resulting consequences has been a broad sense of increasing lawlessness. By August 2021, national polling found that 90% of Americans were “somewhat” to “very concerned” about crime, and 70% said crime was “out of control.”
While the closing of schools in Chicago during 2020 was a factor in rising juvenile crime in the city that year, it was not the main cause. Juvenile offenders were among those emboldened in 2020 by the wider atmosphere of lawlessness. Further, the weakening of the response to juvenile crime in states like Illinois, and more specifically in cities like Chicago, has been occurring for several years. We encourage our followers who have not yet read these items to go back and read two key prior posts on juvenile crime: “Editorial: Spectacle Chicago and the Death of the JISC” and “Some Clarity on Carjackings and the Complexities of Juvenile Crime.”
Too often, juvenile offenders are neither adequately held accountable for delinquency (even acts of violence), nor provided effective intervention services. The murder last month of 8-year-old Melissa Ortega in Chicago’s Little Village community is a stark example. A 16-year-old gang member, Emilio Corripio, with a lengthy delinquency background, was charged as an adult with shooting Melissa. At the time of the murder, Corripo was on intensive probation for three carjackings while he was armed with a gun over a span of four months in 2021. Melissa, who was simply walking with her mother, Araceli Leaños, was hit by a stray gunshot. Corripio was shooting at rival gang members on a busy street in broad daylight when he killed Melissa Ortega.
Such is the type of open lawlessness that comes with a city being a Hadleyville. Corripio had been driven to and from the shooting scene by 27-year-old fellow gang member, Xavier Guzman. After the shooting Corripio and Guzman went and ate a pleasant lunch at a sandwich shop, even exchanging laughter. Secure 1776 does not know if Corripio signed into any remote learning while schools were closed for in-person learning. However, even if schools had been in session during all of 2020, it is not likely that would have averted Corripio’s crime wave.
Yes, pandemic mandates did complicate matters, and among those responses was the closing of schools for most children for nearly all of 2020. In all likelihood we will see vast and wide-ranging consequences from those closures for many years to come. But, the desire from many in the political elite and the media to connect increasing lawlessness to the pandemic remains more of a convenient distraction than a serious attempt to identify the main cause for increasing crime. It is yet unclear whether any juveniles were involved in an apparent carjacking-turned-murder in Chicago’s South Loop area on Sunday, 6 February 2022. In that incident, a 44-year-old victim was found dead in the street near 24 Street and Michigan Avenue and his 2015 Mercedes GLA is missing.
Psst – One Additional Spectacle Chicago Update
In our posts regarding the anticipated final 2021 year-end murder count, there is a “Chicago 800“ update. As we noted in our New Year’s Day post, with the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, Chicago’s murder count was 797. We noted as well, that even as the city managed to avoid the spectacle of New Year’s Day media coverage of 800 murders (an arbitrary but symbolic marker), the count wound ultimately cross over that carnage level. We also remind our readers that Chicago’s official murder count does not include murders on Chicago’s expressways. There were at least 17 of those in 2021. Murders on the expressways are investigated by the Illinois State Police, and as such there is no corresponding CPD report. Chicago’s official count is based upon those incidents investigated and reported by the CPD.
With the weak media coverage, most readers likely missed the quiet revision to the 2021 data. Our check of the data, as of the end of January, confirms that the 2021 murder count in Chicago now stands at 801. Sadly, the count may increase further, if additional victims attacked in 2021 die as a result of their injuries in the weeks or months ahead. We note that the mayor did not mention the revised “over 800 official total” in her Monday press conference. Apparently it was not worth mentioning.
We are interested in your thoughts, and invite you to comment below.