Rahm Emanuel’s Chicago More Violent than Al Capone’s Chicago and the Old West

Since Rahm Emanuel entered the political scene years ago, he’s been a master at manipulating the press to his benefit. A pliant media has largely gone along with whatever talking point Emanuel desired. Lately, some of the media has begun to put the spotlight on violent Chicago with its rather high murder rate. Banning or restricting handguns has not been very successful in combatting violence in Chicago.  The website Big Government reports the bloody details:

After Chicago recorded a terrible homicide total of 53 in August, September wasn't much better for Rahm's "world class" city. The city suffered 41 homicides, 30 of which resulted from 184 total shootings

September brings more bad news for Chicago residents. While Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, and the Chicago media have continued to hammer the point that the "crime rate is down," and "murder is down," as of September 22, the homicide total for 2013 now exceeds the rate up to the same date in 2011 by two percent at 350, according to the Chicago Police Crime Data Portal.

How does today’s Chicago hold up at the violent memory of Al Capone’s Chicago of the 1920s? Not very well.  WLS-TV investigated the data and the evidence is rather stunning report in February:

Let's compare two months: January 1929, leading up to the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, and last month, January 2013. Forty-two people were killed in Chicago last month, the most in January since 2002, and far worse than the city's most notorious crime era at the end of the Roaring Twenties.

Even though the image of Chicago, perpetuated by Hollywood over the years, was that mobsters routinely mowed down people on the streets, the crime stats tell us that we were safer under Capone than Emmanuel. In January 1929 there were 26 killings. Forty-two people were killed in Chicago last month, the most in January since 2002.

Even though the image of Chicago, perpetuated by Hollywood over the years, was that mobsters routinely mowed down people on the streets, the crime stats tell a different story. The figures from January 2013 are significantly higher than the January of Al Capone's most famous year.

It’s not just the Capone era violence that doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. Constantly we hear from the media and advocates of gun control that we don’t want things to become “the Wild West”. In the last several years, historians have begun to look at this long time legend that was promoted by Hollywood movies.  As Ryan McMaken explains:

Historian Richard Shenkman largely attributes this to the legacy of those reliably-violent Western films. "Many more people have died in Hollywood Westerns than ever died on the real Frontier…[i]n the real Dodge City, for example, there were just five killings in 1878, the most homicidal year in the little town's Frontier history: scarcely enough to sustain a typical two-hour movie."

The old West with its minimal government and armed populace has never been too popular with progressives. But, the reality is it was never really violent according to Terry Anderson and Peter Hill. So, the murder rate of the Capone era and Dodge city of 1878 would be a major improvement for Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Note: This post was originally incorrectly attributed to Wendell Cox.

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I am not trying to cut the

I am not trying to cut the city any slack here...but, while the city may be a bit more "violent" than the 20s and 30s, crime has decreased dramatically since the late 70s to mid-90s period. The early years of the 90s routinely had murders numbering in the 800s and even broke the 900 mark a couple times. So, it would also be fair to highlight the massive drop in murders and overall crime in the last 20 years or so as well.

Comparing to the Capone-era and saying crime is higher provides "shock value" and doesn't really provide any useful trending for the city's present day problem.

ahh, if only...

I have it on pretty good authority (let's call it firsthand experience), that there are key differences in, shall we say, how the numbers are counted and registered. So much so that today, the FBI disregards Chicago's homicide tally for its UCR stats. Why? As with everything in Chicago, there's either money or politics at the bottom of most things, including whether a murder is a murder is a murder.
A generation ago, federal grants were attached to crime rates to appear responsive to city's pleas for help. As such the murder rates were sure to be counted correctly so as to get the money that came with the body count. The numbers couldn't be fudged up because you needed actual bodies, there were plenty of them, and there was also other crime to count that also came with a bigger budget.
Today, the opposite is true. Post Crime Bill and the boom of the 2000's there is a very different game playing out. This one involves making bosses happy in order to keep your job...think big fish eats little fish. Hence, a good number of bodies remain "death investigations" and not "homicide investigations."
Think I'm lying? Make friends with a homicide detective.

BTW, as a lifelong Chicagoan, and one who grew up in one of the worst neighborhoods for gang violence from the 70s-90s, don't kid yourself, the rise is truly noticeable in the past 5 years or so. I kept living right where I grew up, worked there too, and saw it on a daily basis. It continues to creep up and up, and the violence involves younger and younger victims and offenders. Those crime stats the mayor wants to pitch? There's no babies, toddlers and grammar school kids getting shot and killed as often in the 20's or the 90's as there are today. And I'm not just talking about the "senseless case of stray gunshots, though that adds to the unbelievable carnage that just doesn't compare to any other time, never. I'm also talking about the growing number of children targeted by other children and even offending adults, meant to send severe messages in retaliation for drug or money-related grievances, but also just plain ugly brutality directed at kids. Read the Yummy Sandifer case from the early nineties. It's almost quaint to see the so-called outrage and outcry from the Tribune about how we "as a community," needed to "do something to end the violence." Riiiiight...


Shock value is all this blog has left.


"murders are down almost 50% from twenty years ago."

Keep trying....maybe Koch will throw in some more money to keep this blog alive.

Praise the Koch Brothers if they do support this blog

Praise the Koch Brothers if they do support this blog...... that would make them honourable men, in comparison to the filthy rich property magnates who support "smart growth" advocacy. At least "sprawl's vested interests" make modest and honest profits actually supplying things for which there is an honest demand, employing people and creating new wealth.

In contrast, smart growth delivers massive capital gains to property magnates; orders of magnitude larger, and zero sum.


You may not realize this but for most of us the mentioning of the 'Koch' monster as an all purpose bogey man (or is it boogie man?) automatically discredits your remarks. Sort of how if I blamed something on 'commies' or 'liberals' would do for you.

Arguments work, slogans don't.

Gun control+ unarmed law abiding=chicago high crime rate

The elite of Chicago have made decisions that only insure a high crime rate.

!. Gun control: only disarms the law abiding. Criminals don't care that they are breaking more laws.

2. Handcuffing the police: Not using policing that works (see NYC during Rudy G). More concern for PC policies then crime victims.

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