What is driving the wave of violence in Chicago?
Fox News political analyst Gianno Caldwell speaks with the residents, gang members of Chicago’s hardest hit communities.
Sixteen-year-old Damarcus Wilson was the first to die. Nine days after the new year, Wilson walked with his 17-year-old girlfriend on a cold and foggy Chicago night. It was around 8:30 p.m. when someone in a dark-colored car opened fire. A single bullet hit the teenager in the back – the termination of his life within a few minutes.
A month later, Larenzo Smith, 15, ran in the south Chicago neighborhood around 5:20 p.m. when someone approached him and started shooting. Smith was hit in the chest and taken to Comer Children’s Hospital, where he was pronounced dead less than an hour later.
Chicago’s crime in their national reputation, a look at the problem reveals an alarming number of minors is shot or killed in the crossfire. Grieving families and broken communities often feel that they have been forgotten by the authorities in the investigation to dry up and no one is held responsible for the violence. Pain brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, not able to cope, sometimes in the direction of crime as the cycle continues.
“We can’t survive another year of chaos,” Rep. Danny K. Davis, D-Ill., told Fox News. “The stress and strain of it is so great. Everyone seems to be on the different pages, and there are constant crosses and difficult situations to wear.”
Each month of this calendar year, at least one minor is shot and killed in Chicago. In each month, there are multiple shootings.
According to the data compiled by The Chicago Tribune, since September 2011, at least 174 people under the age of 17 years have been killed while 1,665 children have been shot to death.
Lavontay White, Jr, (left) was shot dead on Valentine’s day in 2017 and is one of the youngest victims of Chicago’s gun violence; Kenwon Parker (right) was shot to death earlier this week, one day before his 16th birthday with a gun-toting 13-year-old
In 2017 alone, 246 children under the age of 17 were shot. One of the youngest victims was a two-year-old Lavontay White Jr., who was shot dead on Valentine’s day along with his uncle, Lazaric Collins, 26 in a gang attack. Collins was the intended target, police said at the time.
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The violence, the police says, is mainly fed by gangs. The shootings, the residents counter, are a by-product of individuals targeted and the normalisation of poverty as a lack of resources.
The locals also say they are frustrated with the pace of progress in criminal investigations.
What remains is a fertile soil for distrust that stimulates envy, hostility and suspicion on both sides.
“It’s discouraging,” Davis, who moved to Chicago in 1961. “It seems as if the over a period of time, the population has lost a large part of the hope. The kids are shooting one another on the streets.”
Larenzo Smith, 15, (left) ran in the south Chicago neighborhood when he was shot in the chest in February; a month earlier, Damarcus Wilson, 16, was struck by a single bullet in the back of someone who shot him from a dark-colored car on a foggy night
That is what happened when Kenwon Parker participated in a community basketball game in Chicago, Garfield Park. A day before his 16th birthday, Parker and the other 14-year-old shot and killed with a gun-toting 13-year-old attacker.
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“They took my baby!!! They took my baby,” Parker’s mother Keyoner Westbrook yelled as family members and friends had to keep her from sinking to her knees on the pavement. “I bury my son…I have to bury my son instead of celebrating his birthday!”
On 25 July, a three-year-old girl ran into the street with her father when a man came up to them and started shooting. The toddler was shot twice in the leg. Her father, a documented member of the gang and the alleged victim of the violent encounter, was also a hit.
“We heard gun shots and I saw the little girl fall, so I walked to her for the first aid,” witness Jamie Perez told reporters at the scene.
Violence Is driving from Chicago to the breaking point?
Neighbor Veronica Shirley lamented: “It is sad, because the children are not allowed to have children. They are not allowed to walk with their parents, they are not allowed to enjoy their life. You know, they’re in the middle of what is here in this world. These innocent babies have nothing to do with it.”
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The violence has gotten so bad that state Rep. Melissa Conyears-Ervin says she doesn’t allow her two year old daughter to ride her bike in the outdoors.
The majority of Chicago shootings take place in the centre of the south and west sides – areas characterized not only by a deterioration of the neighborhoods, but also a lack of a fast, efficient emergency care. Shooting victims are often sent to the larger hospitals, but some, such as the Comer Children’s Hospital, have adapted their trauma centers to house Chicago and is the control of the zone, such as terms and conditions.
After a particularly bloody weekend in the beginning of August, Mt. Sinai’s emergency room was closed for a number of hours after an overload of the body were brought in. At least 75 people were shot – 12 killed, including four children, ages 17, 14, 13 and 11. The same hospital was in the lock of the in May after a riot broke out in the lobby.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who is up for re-election in February, and faced with strong criticism over his handling of the crime, a visit to the hospital to thank the doctors and nurses. Despite the gesture, the community activists say that the bloodshed will stop only when there is real, meaningful change. That includes the repair of broken families, bringing jobs to the area and the construction of the broken relationship with the government.
For his part, Chicago Police spokesman Anthony guglielmi says the department plans to hire an additional 300 investigators at the end of 2018.
“We are making significant investments,” he said.
For now, however, it seems that the bitterness is still there.
Of the 75 people who were shot during the early August massacre, only one person has been charged in connection with the shooting.
“(Chicago police) don’t care about us,” resident Angie Johnson told Fox News. “They could start to solve these shootings and show they give a s***.”