Tuesday, April 20, 2010

These crazy weekends of violence also are a part of the character of Chicago

Chicago lost at least nine residents Sunday as part of one of the most unfortunate aspects of the city’s character – the occasional outbursts that take place in some of the less visible neighborhoods of our city.

We didn’t have a mass murder or severe accident take place. What we’re talking about is one of those weird convergences that results in a few incidents taking place almost at the same time that throw our city’s crime rate out of whack.

WHAT ALWAYS GETS to me about these weekends, when they occur, is that the incidents are limited to the same neighborhoods. It’s as though we are too accepting of the fact that some people have to live their lives in fear of violence.

By comparison, there also are other neighborhoods where the thought of one violent crime taking place within the local boundaries would be considered a crime wave of historic proportions.

Somebody dies in Englewood? That’s just the way things are. A shooting in Sauganash? That concept is so alien – I don’t know the last time that Sauganash on the Northwest Side had a slaying.

I do know that Englewood on the South Side was one of three neighborhoods where incidents took place that involved people being shot. It was a neighborhood that had multiple incidents. It is part of the reason that the Chicago Tribune reported 7 shot in Chicago on Sunday – then had to use the website Monday morning to update two more people who got shot in the final two hours of the day.


That is not a typical Chicago weekend – no matter how much some people who weren’t fortunate enough to be born and raised here want to think so, we don’t get constant mayhem in all corners of Chicago.

In fact, the number of incidents has declined significantly since the days when I was a reporter-type person for the now-defunct City News Bureau of Chicago. Back in the late 1980s, I can recall a city that averaged 2.5 murders per day, and where the “violent weekends” could easily see 20 or so people get killed.

By comparison, only two of the nine people who were shot Sunday wound up dying. That almost makes it sound like this was a not-so-untypical weekend after all. Except that there is something rather wrong about having to think about such violence as being the “norm” that we live with.

NOW I AM not naïve. I realize that whenever one lives in a place with so many people concentrated in one spot, there are going to be more outbursts than one would see if one lives in a place with few people. In short, small-town life.

That concept is just too isolated for me, and I would guess for many of you people who identify with the city of Chicago. So I suppose it does come down to being one of urban life’s trade-offs – albeit one that is sad.

So for those people whose view of Chicago gets restricted to the north lakefront, my point is to throw attention to the neighborhoods of Englewood, Lawndale and Little Village. The latter usually gets its annual moment of attention on or about May 5 when city officials hold the official local Cinco de Mayo celebration.

The other two neighborhoods usually only get their annual moment of glorification on this day when they are the scene of the violent outbursts that some people sarcastically like to think are the evidence of the coming of nice weather.

AFTER ALL, IF people who live in these neighborhoods aren’t cooped up inside anymore to escape the cold, it is only natural they are going to behave badly.

I hope the sarcasm with which I repeat that attitude comes through in full. Because that’s the kind of negative attitude that I’d like to think is unbecoming of our city.

But it is with an attempt of drowning out such a negative attitude that I bring up the names Jerel Love and Amos Dailey Jr. I have never written about either man before, and now I will never get a chance to write about either again. Neither one made it out of their 20s age-wise.

What makes them significant is they are the two men who were shot Sunday night, and were pronounced dead at about 10:30 p.m. Sunday. The Chicago Tribune reported that police think the two men were shot while sitting inside a car as some sort of act of retribution for a streetgang-related incident.

OF COURSE, LOVE’S sister claims he was not a gang member, and in fact worked to try to keep young people out of streetgangs. Which means there probably is no logical reason for what happened Sunday night.

Not that there was any more logical reason for the shootings that took place in other neighborhoods around the city – which left people in conditions ranging from “good” to “serious.” So the next time one talks of the character of Chicago and starts focusing on the Hancock Building, we ought to remember this other, more sobering, part of the city character.


EDITOR’S NOTES: Many of the shootings that took place Sunday and left nine people either dead or injured (http://www.chicagobreakingnews.com/2010/04/at-least-7-shot-in-city-on-sunday.html) seem so random, as though (http://www.chicagobreakingnews.com/2010/04/2-found-shot-to-death-in-vehicle-on-west-side.html) stray gunfire just naturally flies through the Chicago skies looking for unaware targets.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If a community doesn't demand decent schools for itself and a critical mass of parents don't do the things they're supposed to do then a community gets pretty fucked up.

There's only so much outsiders can do.

If the people living there don't have a vision for making their community better then it's going to continue being the way it is.

The rational response for people who live there who have their shit together is to move.

The rational responses for the city are (short term) flood the streets with cops (long term) gentrify or redevelop.

Why should activists put their energy into fixing a community where the next generation of "leaders" are just interested in controlling the gov't and non-profit infrastructure to enrich themselves?