With guest, Louder Than a Bomb poet Nate Marshall

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Latest Chicago gun deaths. Communities in distress.

"He hits the one that hurts the most to lose,” said Chicago Police Officer Damon Stewart, 36, Hadiya ’s godfather. “I changed her diapers, I played with her growing up. My heart is broken.”
Isolated and racially segregated neighborhoods in economic distress. Schools, medical and mental health facilities facing closure. The lives and family situations of thousands of mainly black and Latino youth in disarray and being further destabilized by city, county and state policies and budget cuts. Add in the easy availability of guns and you have some clues about why we're losing so many young people to the violence of Chicago streets.

There were seven murders from gunshots and other causes from 6 p.m. Friday until 12:01 a.m. Monday , according to the police department. Altogether, the city saw 10 shootings during that period, including victims who were wounded but did not die.

“That’s just not the way those numbers usually play out,” Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said Tuesday, "Unfortunately that’s the way it goes sometimes ..." McCarthy says violence is not as bad as it seems. He says the shock of murders doesn’t mean the department’s strategy to curb violence isn’t working. But of course, that all misses the point. Policing strategies, which seem to change week-to-week, come into play after the fact and do nothing to improve the conditions of life in the community.

The latest victims, two King High School students, one dead and one wounded in Vivian Gordon Harsh Park, near the school in the city's Kenwood neighborhood. Along with about a dozen others, they were hanging out under a canopy in the park to get out of the rain after school was let out early because of testing. Shots rang out, killing 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton who took a bullet in the back. Another student was shot in the leg.

King was one of the city's high schools that was closed and re-opened as a selective-enrollment school under Mayor Daley's Renaissance 2010 "reform" initiative.

Hadiya (4th from left) performs at inauguration with King classmates.
A week ago, Hiadiya was in D.C. performing at presidential inauguration festivities as part of the Mikva Challenge. She had plans of going to Paris in the summer on a student exchange program.
“She’s a huge reader, loves stories and novels and was naturally smart, always on the honor roll,” said her cousin, Shatira said. “She was caught up in the violence of the city.” 
As usual, the shootings will be written off in the media as "gang-related" and the record-high number of shooting deaths seen mainly as a policing and jailing problem. That takes us nowhere.


  1. Amen. Green jobs, not jails and wars, for starters...

  2. Not as bad as it seems? Is this guy out of his mind?? How does he continue to get the support of the communities with this sort of crap?

  3. Every one of the hundreds of shooting deaths in Chicago have hit me hard. The very thought that one Chicago mom has had to bury four of her children who were victims of gun violence, is almost too much for me to bear. But for some reason, the death of Hadiya Pendleton has touched me like none of the others. Maybe because I've got two daughters of in the public schools.

    We've got to do something to stop the violence. Let's start by pushing the politicians to get all these guns off the street and out of the hands of children.


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