A reward sign and messages hang near where Tyshawn Lee was fatally shot in Chicago (Photo Credit: AP Photo/Teresa Crawford).
The Real Chi-Raq
The Internet erupted with excitement this week for Spike Lee’s latest joint (film) “Chi-Raq.”
And almost daily, the city of Chicago erupts with violence and not excitement especially for the youngest residents of the city.
Shootings in Chicago have claimed many innocent African-American children, most recently 9-year-old Tyshawn Lee who “was killed in a South Side alley and Chicago police believe that he was targeted as part of a gang feud involving his relatives,” according to BlackAmericaWeb.com.
“You’re an enemy of this community and the house that is hiding you, if they don’t turn you in today, you are an enemy of this community,” said Fr. Michael Pflegler.
Unfortunately, countless shootings in Chicago have led to many enemies of the community for the third largest city in the United States.
According to the Chicago Tribune, there have been 421 homicides in Chicago thus far in 2015 compared to 435 in 2014.
In September 2o15, shootings in Chicago left 62 people dead.
Based on a report by The Daily Beast, “These…shootings didn’t happen in Roseburg, Lafayette, Charleston, or Chattanooga but in Chicago’s worst neighborhoods, where—by one measure—it is more dangerous to live than the world’s most-murderous countries.
“West Garfield Park, population 18,000, had 21 murders last year, which makes for a homicide rate of 116 per 100,000 people. The world’s leader in murders, Honduras, has a rate of 90, according to the United Nations.”
According to The Daily Beast, shootings in Chicago exceeded 2,000 last year, and that number has increased in 2015. Statistics show that for every murder victim, there are four people who survive the shootings in Chicago with non-fatal injuries.
After a pregnant mother and grandmother became the latest victims of the mass shootings in Chicago, national media barely noticed.
“You would think that the attention would be tremendous, but it really wasn’t,” said Pastor Corey Brooks. “We keep telling people about the magnitude and seriousness of the issue, but we’re obviously not getting people to hear the message. I think what’s going on is it’s expected, that people think it’s a way of life on the South Side of Chicago. And people have been desensitized.”
Many community activists have blamed gun control, a lack of African-American cops, an unwillingness to testify against alleged perpetrators and a scarcity of jobs and economic promise as some of the reasons for the exorbitant amount of shootings in Chicago.
Furthermore, gang culture has allegedly changed over the decades.
In the 1980s, killing children and the elderly was not permitted in street culture. Now, killers of children even get street credibility for their crimes.
“Their killing babies, shooting mothers, shooting kids…The mentality is ‘If I don’t like myself there’s no way I’m gonna like you,’” said Tio Hardiman, president of the Violence Interrupters.
In one Chicago community, the violence has been interrupted thanks to signs alerting gang members that there are children at play in that particular neighborhood.
Residents on the South Side of Chicago have begun posting handmade signs that read "Don’t Shoot Kids at Play."
According to CBSNews.com, “While it’s not clear how much the signs are really making a difference, violent crime in the area has fallen off dramatically. Last year during the Fourth of July weekend, police say there were more than a dozen shootings in the area. This year: none.”
Unfortunately, the signs did not save Lee, but with that and other efforts it might save the next Tyshawn Lee from suffering the same fate.