Monday, March 24, 2014


Stock footage (DNAinfo)
Gun violence continues to plague Chicago's communities and with it comes a strange anonymity regarding both the dead and maimed as well as the shooters. Over the weekend, 21 more people were shot, 2 of them fatally. I hate to relate this story simply in terms of numbers because the huge weekend shooting count published in the press every Monday morning, along with the stock footage of yellow crime tape, keeps us from seeing this horror in personal terms. This for example is from this morning's report from CBS 5 morning news:
A 19-year-old man and a 16-year-old boy were shot in the right foot, and a 19-year-old man was shot in the left leg. All three victims were taken to Stroger Hospital in stable condition.
The worst part is that, like the Vietnam War's body-bag count, these numbers become the stuff of political campaigns driving our mayor and his police chief to spin them in a favorable way, ie. only 19 wounded, only 2 dead, a 19% decrease over last year, etc... They cover over the real human cost, not only the victims and shooters and their families, along with the incredible growth in our prison population, but also the psychological toll on the minds of our students and young children, especially in neighborhoods where shootings have become an every-day occurrence.

I'm reminded again of criminologist John Hagedorn's words, published in last week's Sun-Times:
But the reasons for Chicago’s medium to high homicide rate are not what police do, but what the city has not done. The problem isn’t gangs so much as the desperation of young black men. We don’t need magic policing tricks but real jobs, decent education, adequate housing, fair police and other steps on the long, hard road of reducing inequality and violence.

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