From Chiberia to Chiraq?

As temperatures surged towards 80 degrees in Chicago this weekend, the rate of inner-city crime also soared, leaving more than 30 wounded and 4 dead.

 After a hectic winter, Chicago temperatures were finally approaching 70 degrees on Friday, April 4th, when seventeen-year-old Gakirah Barnes left her home on the 8000 block of South Shore Drive to meet with friends at a barbecue. Before she left, Barnes’ mother, Shontell Brown, routinely told her that she loved her and warned her to be cautious. No more than two hours passed and Barnes was found fatally shot at 3:30 p.m. in an attack that wounded two others at the 6400 block of South Eberhart Avenue, according to the Chicago Tribune report.

Barnes was later pronounced dead at 5:43 p.m. in Northwestern Memorial Hospital. According to the Tribune, her mother referred to her death  as the result of an “on going war” occurring in Chicago city’s street. Brown is not the first person to refer to deaths and shootings in Chicago in combative terms. The media has often labeled Chicago as “Chiraq,” due to the pressing violent crime occurring, comparing fatalities and deaths to the past war in Iraq. Barnes was one of the four people shot dead this weekend and the victims all died within a three-day time span.

Other Weekend Fatalities:

  •  On Friday night, four hours after Barnes death, 34-year-old Shannon Mack died after being shot numerous times on the 2800 block of East 76th Street.
  • In the Washington Park, area 32-year-old Corey Brownlee passed away as a result of being shot in the chest at 2:40 a.m. on Sunday, April  13th,  in the 6000 block of South Indiana Avenue.
  • The most recent fatality, 20-year-old Joshua Martinez also died on Sunday, after sustaining gunshot wounds to his head and his back on the 3000 block of West 53rd place.

View Interactive Map of Weekend Fatalities

Chicago Police Responds

Is it possible that this war and violence is further triggered by increasing temperatures? Although Chicago Police DePartment Spokesman, Adam Collins, declined to comment on that possibility, the immensity of the bloodshed this weekend makes that notion a probability. Collins spoke optimistically about the decline of overall violence in the city.  He rather pointed some of the blame at state and federal gun laws.

 Weather..or War?

However, some media outlets do not find it coincidental or surprising that murders have began to increase at a fast rate at the first sign of warm temperatures.. According to Chicagomag’s statistics from violent crime reports in 2010 and 2011, the city shows a growing trend of a rise in violent crime as the spring and summer seasons approaches.  The magazine reports that higher temperatures results in more social activity, which gives a way to violent attacks. It can also have a physiological  affect on the human mind, bringing about anger and stress which makes others more prone to violence.

Crime in 2010

Crime in 2011

Weather is certainly not the cause of violence in Chicago, but it is a trigger. Although we cannot do much prevent violence, we can prepare ourselves aware of such factors. Whether seventeen-year-old Barnes was a victim of unfortunate circumstances probed by warmer weather, or an ongoing street war is not certain. What is certain is that the plethora of gunshots fired this weekend  is only resounding reminder of what we might see if we lack caution as summer approaches.