Residents of Chicago are being shot at a rate three times higher than they were at the start of 2015, and its interim police superintendent says social media is partly to blame.
From Jan. 1 through Jan. 13 of 2015, 37 people were shot within the city limits of Chicago, CBS News reports. In the same timespan this year, at least 110 people have been shot. Other sources peg the shooting count even higher, with DNAinfo reporting that 139 people were shot through Thursday morning.
At least 21 of these shootings have been fatal so far.
Chicago police superintendent John Escalante described the increase in violence as “frustrating,” and blamed it on gang violence fueled by social media.
“As you’re well aware, we have seen an uptick in violence, especially with our shootings and murders,” Escalante said during a Wednesday press conference. “A lot of it is gang conflicts, but [it’s] also heavily driven by social media. It is the new way … of taunting and challenging other gangs, and is the modern way of gang graffiti.”
It’s actually not the first time social media has been blamed for surging crime. Last May, a Chicago alderman described social media as “technological kerosene” in high-crime neighborhoods.
Escalante became the interim superintendent of Chicago police in December, after Garry McCarthy was fired following the release of a video that shows Chicago police killing knife-wielding teenager Laquan McDonald. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has blamed a fear of being in a viral video has been partly responsible for tentative policing that has driven a rise in crime. Thursday night saw the release of another such video, showing police killing an unarmed Cedrick Chatman in 2013.
“We have allowed our police department to get fetal and it is having a direct consequence,” Emanuel told Attorney General Loretta Lynch in October.