Overall Chicago crime down, but shootings and murders up in May 2020: police

Overall crime in Chicago fell 20% in May 2020 compared to the same month last year, but murders increased by about 60% and shooting victims rose by 71%, according to police statistics.

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Chicago Police Department Supt. David Brown and leaders of other city agencies announce the opening of the Summer Operations Center at Olive Park Friday morning.

The Chicago Police Department announced a 20% reduction in overall crime in May 2020 compared to the same month last year, despite increases in shootings and murders. In this file photo, CPD Supt. David Brown and other city leaders announce the opening of the Summer Operations Center at Olive Park on May 22, 2020.

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Overall crime in Chicago fell by 20% in May 2020 compared to the same period last year, despite increases in shootings and homicides, according to statistics released Saturday by the Chicago Police Department.

The 20% reduction is for the general category including murder, criminal sexual assault, robbery, aggravated battery, burglary, theft and vehicle theft, according to a statement from police.

However, shootings across the city increased by 71% last month, with 409 people shot in May 2020 compared to 332 shooting victims in May 2019, according to police statistics. Murders were also up by about 60%, with 85 reported in May 2020 compared to 53 last year.

From January through May, 1,127 shooting victims have been recorded in Chicago, up nearly 30% from 868 in the same period in 2019, according to police. The 245 murders from January through May also mark a 25% increase from the 196 murders in the same period last year.

The release of May’s crime statistics comes less than a week after the final weekend of the month, which saw 85 people shot across the city, 24 of them fatally. The crime numbers, which are usually released on the first of each month, were delayed by five days because of the increase in activity and citywide unrest.

The weekend’s explosion of violence happened at the same time as widespread protests in the wake of the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd. Several Chicago police SUVs were flipped or set on fire downtown on May 30 in a night that prompted Mayor Lori Lightfoot to implement an overnight curfew. Looting spread to other parts of the city and suburbs the next day as access to downtown was blocked.

Police said 1,258 people were arrested in Chicago that weekend, with 699 of those arrests relating to “criminal conduct tied to looting and destruction of property.”

Officers also made 62 gun arrests and recovered 135 guns that weekend, bringing the total number of firearms the department has seized this year to more than 3,500, according to police.

More than 130 CPD officers were injured that weekend, with one suffering a broken arm and several others requiring stitches, police said. Another officer had a heart attack.

In response to the demonstrations, officers started working 12-hour shifts and all days off were canceled, police said.

“Chicago Police officers were challenged with striking a balance between ensuring the First Amendment rights of peaceful protestors and protecting the city from violent looting,” Supt. David O. Brown said in the statement. “Our officers will be there as neighborhoods throughout the city work to rebuild. We are dedicated to keeping Chicago safe.”

Multiple CPD officers have come under scrutiny in the week since for actions over the weekend.

The Civilian Office of Police Accountability is investigating a video that showed two officers dragging a woman out of a vehicle by her hair May 31 and smashing the vehicle’s windows at the Brickyard Mall. The officers have been stripped of their police powers and the investigation is ongoing.

The president of the Chicago Police Board also filed a complaint after he was struck by officers during the weekend’s protests in Kenwood.

A week before the protests began, Chicago saw its deadliest Memorial Day weekend since 2015, with 10 people killed and 39 wounded by gun violence between May 22 and 26. The first weekend of May also saw a sharp uptick in shootings from previous weeks, with four people killed and 42 wounded.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continued, the CPD issued more than 11,400 dispersal orders through May 30 to enforce the state’s stay-at-home order, police said. Officers issued 45 citations to people who failed to comply and arrested 27 people “in cases where individuals failed to comply after multiple warnings.”

A total of 562 Chicago police officers tested positive for the virus through May 31, and more than half of the officers diagnosed have since recovered and been medically cleared to return to work, the department said.

Read more on crime, and track the city’s homicides.

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