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The murder capital of America isn’t Chicago. But it is in Illinois. With more than one murder per 1,000 residents, this year’s murder capital has a murder rate 21.3 times the national average, and nearly 5 times Chicago’s murder rate. You may never have heard of it, until now.

This and other surprising findings were revealed in Neighborhood Scout’s annual Top 30 Murder Capitals of America Report, released today. 2019.

Among the surprises: the murder capital of Florida isn’t Miami, but a city of 35,000 that is a scant 8 miles from the famous Mar-a-Lago Club. Alaska, the nation’s largest and least densely populated state, now has a city with one of the highest murder rates anywhere in America. And the vacation destination with the highest murder rate in America is located on the New Jersey shore.

Big cities and small, our crime research reveals the 30 cities in America with the highest number of murders per 1,000 residents. Murder is the willful (non-negligent) killing of one human being by another. We limited our research to cities with 25,000 or more people. Data used for this research are 1) the number of murders reported to have occurred in each city, and 2) the population of each city.

Based on the latest national data available at the time of publication, representing calendar year 2017 and released in September 2018, this report reveals interesting patterns about crime and murder in America.

“This is not about the Chicago Police Department alone. It’s not about the Summer Jobs program alone. This is about the fabric of a neighborhood and community. You can talk about the weather, but the weather didn’t pull the trigger.

You can talk about jobs and they count, but in parts of the city where there aren’t jobs people did not pull the trigger,” Emanuel said during a press conference on Aug. 6, following the outbreak of violence. “There are too many guns on the street, too many people with criminal records on the street, and there’s a shortage of values about what is right, what is wrong, what is acceptable, what is condoned and what is condemned.”

“The impact of more police in our communities means that there’s more police contact, more interaction, more harassment, more surveillance, more violence by police officers which includes sexual violence, physical violence, harassment and actual killings of black and brown people,” Carruthers insisted. “The more of them that are there we’re not safer. The more of them that are there it increases the likelihood of what we already know happens in this city of violence by Chicago police officers.”

“Police are meant to react. The police department is a reactive source. They’re only waiting on someone to pick up the phone and call,” Green echoed. “The police department is an oppressive force in these communities and they’re just dealing with the effects of people that are not being treated fairly by the system or by the administration when it comes to resources and jobs.”

The media, with its insistent highlighting of the city’s violence, only serves to aggravate the issue.

“[The media gives] airtime to people like [Chicago Police] Superintendent Eddie Johnson and Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and they don’t necessarily give as much airtime to the people who are actually working every single day to end the violence in our communities. And they truly don’t give as much airtime to the people who are talking about transformation over Band-Aid reforms,” Carruthers said. “The narrative is not going to change until we also stop with this convenient narrative of ‘black on black crime,’ telling us that there’s something uniquely wrong with black people … it spills over into politics. It spills over into these campaigns and it absolutely spills over into what resources our communities have access to.”

True solutions to Chicago’s issues, would start with proper investment in the community, as Green alluded to earlier. The money used to push up to 600 new officers into the neighborhoods, for example? Why not use that to better the community instead, Carruthers questions.

“We don’t have nearly as many community centers as we should have in this city. Put the money in there so that young people have somewhere to be generative, that’s like feeling their souls…not something that’s chipping away from them. Police don’t add any value to actually creating these healthy, thriving communities. What it tells folks is that we’re going to increase and militarize presence in your neighborhood because we’re the ones who can keep y’all safe and y’all have failed at it. And that’s counterproductive,” she said. “It’s literally the nuts and bolts of investing in our communities and the mayor getting out of the way, city council, getting out of the way, and ensuring that communities have the ability to have real self-determination over what’s happening.”

And those changes have to come and come quickly. Even now black Chicagoan's are leaving the city in droves, seeking better opportunities, but that leaves the city and those remaining residents of color even more vulnerable.

“People are leaving one; because they don’t have the amount of economic opportunities that they should. Two, they are living in communities that are deeply under-resourced and they’re experiencing deep instability, that includes violence but it also includes not having stable housing [and] not having access to quality healthcare...And those populations are concentrated, not limited, but concentrated on the South and West sides of the city,” Carruthers said. “When we lose the black population in the city what happens is we have the potential for less political power and we absolutely have the potential for less economic power.”

Rahm Emanuel

Former Mayor of Chicago, 2011-2019


In December 2012, 20 elementary school children fell victim to gun violence. Shortly after the killings occurred, national media outlets instantaneously and simultaneously began cov