Seven people have been killed and at least 38 wounded in shootings across Chicago, Illinois, since Friday amid a sharp uptick in gun violence in America’s third-largest city this year.
Police say a cousin of Basketball star Dwayne Wade is among the dead. Nie-kea Aldridge was shot to death on Friday afternoon as she pushed her child in a stroller.
It is believed she was caught in the crossfire of bullets and two men have been charged in connection with her death.
Police said there were 441 homicides in Chicago between the start of 2016 and August 21, which is about a 50 percent increase over the same period last year. That's also more than 80 percent higher than at the same period in 2014.
On Saturday a rally was held by Anti-Gun activists in Washington to demand stricter gun laws.
Much of the growth in Chicago’s homicide rate is related to more gun violence, which have been rising since 2013 but has experienced a sharp increase this year, reaching 2,228 shootings as of August 21.
That's 48 percent more than in the same timeframe last year, and easily surpasses the total recorded in all of 2014, when there were 2,084.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the city’s police department often point to gang violence and the easy availability of guns for the spike in homicides and gun violence.
Some experts cite a loss of trust between police and African American residents, a long-standing problem that became worse after the city’s police department released a video in November that showed a white police officer fatally shooting a black teenager 16 times, setting off weeks of protests.
On Saturday, a rally was held by hundreds of anti-gun activists in Washington, DC, to demand stricter gun laws.
The demonstration included participants from over 50 organizations. The protesters demanded law reforms, which will reduce the amount of firearms on the streets. They also want more stringent background checks on those wishing to obtain firearms.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), firearms are the cause of death for more than 33,000 people in the United States every year, a number that includes accidental discharge, murder, and suicides.