Chicago students explain why increased crime, Lightfoot policies put them at risk
Multiple students told 'Campus Reform' that they sense crime is getting worse in their neighborhoods.
The Chicago Police Department reports that crime is on the rise in the city, though the mayor maintains the narrative that it is declining.
As nationwide calls to defund the police increase, crime in the city of Chicago continues to rise. Students going to school in the city told Campus Reform that the crime is noticeable.
According to statistics published by the Chicago Police Department, murders are up 49% since 2019 and criminal sexual assault is up 23% since 2020. According to the Chicago Tribune crime team, there have been over 2,020 victims of gun violence so far this year, an increase of more than 160 from last year.
According to the Chicago Sun Times, 2020 ended with 775 murders, an increase of more than 50% from the 506 homicides in the prior year.
Over the July 4th weekend, Chicago saw one of its most violent weekends as over 100 people were shot. At least a dozen children were caught in the crosshairs of the gun violence.
Campus Reform spoke to students who attend college in Chicago to get their firsthand experience with living in the city.
When asked if he has noticed an increase in crime in the city since he started at University of Illinois Chicago, sophomore Ethan Melman told Campus Reform that he has noticed a rise in criminal activity.
“I work for my school's Student Patrol and since we are issued police radios we hear about all the reports that come through for the UIC police and those reports have only gone up. Car jacking, fondling of women in streets, and robbery are staples of the area of Chicago,” Melman said.
He added that there has been a noticeable increase in the number of 911 calls in the past week.
Despite the data, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot claimed that “crime is on the decline” in a June press conference.
“All of our major indices show a decline in our crime, and our homicides and our shootings year over year are down,” Lightfoot said.
“We got a call for the police about a guy who brought a gun out to a bar literally a three minute walk from one of the campus’s biggest dorms, the JST,” Melman admitted.
Lightfoot believes that the issue is the prevalence of illegal firearms in the city, and she is committed to “fight and make sure this plague of gun violence is one that we win once and for all.”
“It’s wrong that the politicians of Chicago are flat out lying to the people of the city by claiming crime is going down when it very much is on the rise and nothing is being done to stop it,” University of Illinois Chicago sophomore Ethan Melman told Campus Reform.
“The city is not getting any better and the crimes are not stopping. Something must be done because I [don’t] think it's normal that people have to walk around with knives and pepper spray everywhere to keep some semblance of safety while the mayor keeps talking about guns on the street and how they must be stopped,” Melman continued.
Lightfoot’s goal will be difficult as gang members in Chicago outnumber the city’s police officers 10:1, according to Fox News’ Geraldo Rivera.
11 more murdered in #Chicago. #MayorLoriLightfoot says there are 117,000 gang members vs 12-13,000 cops, Gangsters outnumber cops 10 to 1.
A joint federal, state and local effort urgently needed. Constitutional implementation of stop & frisk, massive use of Rico. #GhettoCivilWar
— Geraldo Rivera (@GeraldoRivera) July 12, 2021
This disproportion is worsening as the Chicago Police Department has seen a record number of retirements this year.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, more police officers have retired so far this year than in all of 2018. From January through June, 363 officers left the Chicago Police Department, and an additional 56 are expected to retire in July.
Out of the approximately 13,000 Chicago police officers, 2020 saw 560 retirements, 475 in 2019 and 339 in 2018.
President of the Chicago police union John Catanzara said that even young cops are moving to other police departments because they are “absolutely miserable” due to 12-hour shifts, canceled days off and perpetual pressure of punishment, according to the Sun-Times.
“You are literally treated like a rented mule and ridden until you can’t go any more,” Catanzara said. “Today’s hero, tomorrow’s zero.”
A Concordia University Chicago sophomore who wished to remain anonymous told Campus Reform that she notices the “danger” of Chicago when she uses “public transportation.”
“In my time using public transportation I have been cussed out, cat called, and had someone next to me smoking marijuana. All within the first five minutes,” she said.
Comparing Chicago to her hometown, the Concordia student said that she has noticed a “drastic increase” in crime from living in inner-city Dallas to Chicago.”
Jake Taeleaar, a sophomore at the University of Illinois Chicago, told Campus Reform, "One of the things you have to get used to when living in Chicago is the constant noise of police sirens, and other emergency vehicle sirens."
Tazelaar also noted that despite Chicago’s “strict gun laws,” the city’s “crime rates are worse than many open carry states.”
“It’s very tragic,” he continued.
Tazelaar told Campus Reform that he locks his car doors when he drives on “side streets” because “you never know if someone is going to come up and carjack you. It happens more than you’d think, and the numbers are increasing.”
Likewise, Melman concluded that, “Guns don't need to be stopped, people must be stopped from killing other people. London banned all guns. People still get robbed and die at the blades of knives. It's no different here."
CUC and UIC did not respond to Campus Reform’s request for comment in time for publication.