Amid the beer and brats, fireworks and festivals, did you hear the sound of gunfire ringing in the air? If you didn’t, you can rest assured many, many of your fellow Chicagoans did.
In fact, over the long holiday weekend, more than 60 people were wounded by gunfire, and 14 died. That’s 60 people. Six. Zero.
Of course, if you live in one of the wealthier and more protected parts of the city, you might not have noticed. Entire sections of the city didn't see a shooting over the weekend, with folks in those neighborhoods able to enjoy the 4th of July holiday in relative peace and calm. Unfortunately, other Chicago residents aren’t so lucky. Large parts of the South and West sides of Chicago were like war zones this weekend, with deadly gunfire finding a home in Austin, West Englewood, Pullman, Grand Crossing and elsewhere. In fact, according to news reports nearly all of those killed were black or Hispanic men under the age of 35.
Hardly a representative sampling of the kinds of ethnic and economic diversity that makes the city great.
Even worse is the relative silence and seemingly outright denial practiced by some folks not directly affected by the weekend’s horror. Take, for example, Chicago’s mayor Rahm Emanuel. The city experienced a spasm of gun violence over the weekend and as of this writing, not a word has been issued from him or his office over what he plans to do about it, or about the damage such shootings represent for the families or communities affected.
Compare that silence with how the mayor acted about another big news story recently in Chicago. On the day the city was awarded the right to build the Lucas Cultural Arts Museum, the mayor put out no less than three press releases and a public appearance in less than 24 hours. Or U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who flew into town the other day to help prop up Rahm’s image over city-wide violence. Before the weekend began, Holder sat next to the mayor and praised him for a reduction in violence among Chicago Public School students, despite the fact that 24 CPS students were victims of homicide during the 2013-2014 school year. “I don’t think that this community, this mayor, the leaders from this community get enough credit for [the reduction],” said Holder, who served with Emanuel in President Barack Obama’s administration.
Or take a look at the Chicago Police Department. In April, Chicago Magazine published a long expose questioning the method and meaning behind how CPD reports crime numbers, suggesting the need to create a positive media narrative trumps the need for accurate crime numbers.
All in all, there seems to be two realities at play in Chicago: for some, every summer weekend brings another round of families, friends and neighbors killed in a wave of gun violence.
For others, it seems ignoring or minimizing the carnage on the other side of town is the order of the day.
How was your holiday weekend, Chicago?