Chicago sees rise in robberies as GOP, Dems spar over its image

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(NewsNation) — As Chicago faces a surge of robberies, House GOP lawmakers are seizing the opportunity to portray the city as a testing ground for Democratic policies.

There have been 7,272 robberies citywide so far this year — a 24% increase over the same period in 2022, according to data from the Chicago Police Department (CPD).

Some neighborhoods have seen an even greater spike.

In Chicago’s 14th police district, on the city’s Northwest Side, robberies are up 53% compared to last year and nearly 100% since 2019.

Just this week, a 33-year-old man was brutally attacked in broad daylight while walking through the Bucktown neighborhood. The disturbing incident was caught on surveillance video, which shows two men punching the victim before running off with his backpack.

Local college students have also been targeted. Over the weekend, a DePaul University student was held up and hit with a weapon on the school’s Lincoln Park campus. That’s just the latest incident in a string of robberies on the university’s grounds, which have led to new safety measures.

Police have made arrests in some of the robberies over the past month, but statements from CPD leaders suggest the vast majority of investigations don’t end that way.

“Year to date over 300 robberies have been committed [in the 18th District] and the clearance rate is 10%,” Area 3 Commander Rodney Hill told Lincoln Park residents Tuesday, NewsNation affiliate WGN reported.

Chicagoans told WGN they’ve become increasingly frustrated with the city’s response.

Earlier this month, Mayor Brandon Johnson alluded to a “strategic plan” that’s in place to address the rash of robberies, according to Block Club Chicago.

NewsNation reached out to the mayor’s office for more details on that plan but did not receive a response.

CPD has said it’s tracking patterns to pinpoint where robberies are happening and deploying resources to those areas.

The recent surge hasn’t gone unnoticed among Republican politicians, who paint the city as a lawless, progressive failure.

Members of the GOP-controlled House Judiciary Committee were in Chicago this week to discuss violent crime. Committee Chair Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said the city exemplifies how the “radical left’s agenda makes crime worse.”

A press release from a committee spokesperson prior to the forum blamed the violent crime issues on Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s “pro-crime and anti-victim policies.”

Democrats blasted the meeting, which was held at the local Fraternal Order of Police headquarters.

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker called it “a horse & pony show” and accused the GOP of spreading lies and fearmongering.

Congressman Danny Davis, D-Ill., suggested Republicans go back to Washington and address the looming government shutdown.

“Crime is indeed an issue, gun violence is indeed an issue, and Democrats continue to put forth legislation and programs and come to grips with the real needs of this country,” Davis said in a statement.

In a statement to WGN, Foxx called the meeting a “joke” and said GOP lawmakers were exploiting victims of violent crime. When asked what Congress could do to make Chicago safer, Foxx called for “reasonable, common sense gun laws.”

Despite the robbery surge, murders and shootings in Chicago are down more than 10% compared to this time last year, CPD crime statistics show. Those totals are still about 20% higher than they were in 2019, though.

Earlier this month, Illinois became the first state to eliminate cash bail as a condition of pretrial release. It’s a change supporters argue will create more fairness in the criminal justice system, while critics fear it will lead to more dangerous criminals being released.

On Wednesday, the city council unanimously confirmed Larry Snelling as the next Chicago police superintendent. Snelling has been with the CPD for more than 30 years.

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