‘This is a dangerous place to live’: Chicago mayor admits to escalating homicides

Mayor Rahm Emanuel admitted Sunday that Chicago is a “dangerous place” as the city is struggling to contain a spike in shootings and homicides over the last month.

Officials in Chicago said eight people were killed on Friday, bringing the total killings to 131 for the year, which is more than three times the total in 2016 and the most homicides recorded in a single year since 2002. The city did not previously have 1,000 homicides.

On Sunday, Eric Justices, spokesman for the Cook County state’s attorney’s office, said a preliminary count found 1,295 homicides in the county in 2017, surpassing the 1,270 recorded for the year in 1994, which was the last time homicides reached that level.

Justices said such records are difficult to determine due to statistical error and incomplete data. The county has not been ranked since 2009.

“The city of Chicago and the people of this city are so tested and tested these days,” Emanuel said, adding: “This is a dangerous place to live. I see it everyday.”

During a “code red” emergency address at an empty church, Emanuel said police had made 562 arrests as of Sunday, but more must be done. Officers with dogs and SWAT teams were on duty, according to media reports.

A gunman on the run from a police officer is stopped by a park ranger in Detroit. Photograph: Scott Olson/Getty Images

“We do it on the backs of police officers. We do it on the backs of our people,” Emanuel said. “We must find ways to get a grip on violence.”

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said President Donald Trump was looking at a range of actions, including appointing new US attorneys, “to encourage a consistent and aggressive response to violent crime in Chicago”.

The new Trump administration has said it wants to fill the federal bench with strong-willed conservative jurists. Some on the left have accused the new president of attacking minority groups, the media and constitutional institutions in an effort to rid the country of perceived enemies.

Last year in Chicago, roughly 500 homicides were recorded, a number that kept the city on pace to near the record 498 homicides recorded in 2011. Mayor Rahm Emanuel, in an interview with the Chicago Tribune on Sunday, blamed a “cycle of violence”.

On Wednesday, hundreds of residents and clergy from Chicago’s predominantly black South and West sides staged a demonstration, organized by young activists including Brittany Packnett, to demand justice in the killings of several teenagers and young men.

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