In a press conference delivered on Wednesday, John Escalante—the current interim police superintendent of Chicago—tried to address the spike in shootings across Chicago, but his reasoning wasn’t expected by many. His explanation? Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter are partially to blame for the recent shooting increase.
As he addressed the media during the presser, Escalante said that gang members are taking to social media to issue challenges and taunts to rival gangs which has spurred a wave of increased shootings throughout The Windy City.
According to Chicago’s current interim police superintendent Twitter, Facebook, and other social sites are a modern form of “gang graffiti” which forces retaliation between gangs to meet these taunts and challenges. His statement follows questions regarding the 218% increase in shootings in 2016 compared to the same time period in 2015.
This is not the first time someone has pointed the finger at social media for increased crime rates in Chicago. Escalante’s statements echo similar sentiments issued by Alderman Joe Moore in May of 2015.
Despite Chicago’s interim police superintendent issuing these claims, not everyone is so quick to put the blame on social media sites. Instead, many believe that the increase in Chicago shootings are due to policy changes made by the CPD.
According to police data, there has been a nearly 80-percent drop in investigative stops this year compared to the same time frame last year. While there were 16,698 investigative stop reports in the first 11 days of 2015, this year only 3,916 were filed because of police policy changes.
If you continue to examine the data it becomes clear that it is not just stops that have lowered, but the number of arrests and gun confiscations as well. With the number of gun confiscations down more than 35% this year and gun related arrested down 37% compared to last year, it may not be social media’s fault for the increase in shootings in Chicago, but changes made by the Chicago Police Department instead.