WBEZ | gangs http://www.wbez.org/tags/gangs Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en On day of his bond, Chicago man's actions lead to 25 more years in prison http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/day-his-bond-chicago-mans-actions-lead-25-more-years-prison-109861 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/DSC_9918.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Twelve years ago, gang member Carlos &ldquo;Bear&rdquo; Rocha of Chicago&rsquo;s Southwest Side was imprisoned for possession of a weapon. On the day of his bond, he and another inmate had a disagreement that turned tragically violent. Bear was sentenced to another 25 years behind bars. It wasn&rsquo;t until Bear&rsquo;s brother suffered a similar fate&mdash;in prison on the day of his own release&mdash;that Bear realized the full consequences of his actions.</p><p><strong>CARLOS:</strong> I broke down because I thought that it was karma for what I had done. I thought that it was punishment for taking some else&rsquo;s life here.</p><p dir="ltr">To find out how Bear is trying to mend his ways and reckon with the past, check out the audio above.</p><p><em>Meredith Zielke is a WBEZ producer.&nbsp;</em></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Fplaylists%2F6250422" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Fri, 14 Mar 2014 12:09:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/day-his-bond-chicago-mans-actions-lead-25-more-years-prison-109861 Daley Academy students illustrate effects of gun violence http://www.wbez.org/news/daley-academy-students-illustrate-effects-gun-violence-109013 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Screen Shot 2013-10-25 at 5.29.18 PM.png" alt="" /><p><p>On September 19th, 2013, 13 people were wounded in a shooting at Cornell Square Park in Chicago&#39;s Back of the Yards neighborhood. Directly across from that park is Richard J. Daley Elementary Academy &mdash; a school that&#39;s been affected by gun violence not just in the park, but all over the neighborhood.</p><p>This week, Daley Academy hosted a special art show in partnership with the Illinois Coalition against Handgun Violence. WBEZ Reporter Lauren Chooljian visited the one-day-only exhibit, where a group of 25 seventh graders stood proudly behind their works, done in marker and ink, and all inspired by gun violence.</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/lchooljian-0">Lauren Chooljian</a> is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a>.</p></p> Fri, 25 Oct 2013 17:20:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/daley-academy-students-illustrate-effects-gun-violence-109013 Morning Shift: Black-on-black crime http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-07-18/morning-shift-black-black-crime-108098 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Crime-Flickr- Alessio Centamori PH.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago has become the poster child for violence, but none more pervasive than black-on-black crime. With black youths facing so many obstacles, how do we ensure that their futures can be bright, or that they will have a future at all?</p><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-black-on-black-crime.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-black-on-black-crime" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Black-on-black crime" on Storify</a>]</noscript></p> Thu, 18 Jul 2013 08:18:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-07-18/morning-shift-black-black-crime-108098 Would legal pot hit Chicago gangs’ pocketbooks? http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/would-legal-pot-hit-chicago-gangs%E2%80%99-pocketbooks-106938 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F90506668&amp;color=00e9ff&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Elmhurst resident Siva Iyer read Sudhir Venkatesh&rsquo;s pop academic book <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Gang-Leader-Day-Sociologist-Streets/dp/B004E3XDFI">Gang Leader for a Day</a>, which got him thinking about the economics and industrial side of marijuana.</p><p>The culture around weed has changed over the years, enough that Colorado and Washington have legalized the drug. Is Illinois on the verge of putting legalization to a test? Not likely, but it&rsquo;s worth contemplating. Earlier this year the Illinois House passed a medical marijuana act. And the city of Chicago has decriminalized possession, a policy designed to free up police hours. Officers can now <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/has-idea-ticketing-pot-gone-smoke-104861">ticket</a> for possession of fewer than 15 grams.</p><p>Iyer, who works in the pharmaceutical industry, wondered how gangs would make up for any lost income if &mdash; one day &mdash; weed were sold on store shelves.</p><p>So Iyer asked Curious City:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>If Illinois legalizes marijuana, how could that affect the economics&nbsp;</em><em>of the drug trade among gangs?</em></p><p>The short answer is: not much.</p><p>Iyer and I went to visit Midwest drug czar Jack Riley in a downtown federal building. Riley is Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Field Division for the Drug Enforcement Agency. The blunt-speaking agent described &nbsp;a &ldquo;very toxic&rdquo; and &ldquo;profitable&rdquo; relationship between Chicago street organizations and the Mexican cartels, but it doesn&rsquo;t revolve around weed.</p><p>&ldquo;If marijuana were to be legalized here,&rdquo; Riley said, &ldquo;it would in my opinion have virtually little or no effect on the income of gangs.&rdquo;</p><p>Frankly, marijuana can be a logistical nightmare, Riley explained. It smells. It&rsquo;s bulky. It&rsquo;s hard to store. And it&rsquo;s got a short shelf-life. That is, it&rsquo;s the exact opposite of Chicago gangs&rsquo; &nbsp;and cartels&rsquo; actual drug of choice: heroin.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/SIVA%20FOR%20WEB_0.jpg" style="margin: 5px; float: right; height: 246px; width: 150px;" title="Siva Iyer got us started on this question." />Here are the economics, according to Riley: A pound of decent-grade marijuana can run between $1,400-1,500. A kilo of cocaine sells for about $40,000. The real cash maker, Riley said, is the more compact heroin, which goes for $60,000 a kilo. He said it arrives from Mexico 90 percent pure and is sold at a purity of nine &nbsp;to 12 percent on the street after being cut and pumped with additives.</p><p>Riley said in the local drug trade, rival gangs collaborate these days over the dealing of heroin.</p><p>&ldquo;They very seldom interacted with other gangs other than to fight. So their business relationships were siloed. If someone in that particular gang &mdash; we&rsquo;ll talk about the Gangster Disciples &mdash; if somewhere in the GDs, [if] they didn&rsquo;t have a connection to a Mexican source or supply, they simply couldn&rsquo;t get the drugs,&rdquo; Riley said. &ldquo;Well now, as long as everyone&rsquo;s making money from business, we do begin to see, for instance, the Gangster Disciples, the Latin Kings and other criminal organizations begin to work together.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/DRUG CZAR GUIDE.jpg" style="width: 350px; float: left; height: 245px;" title="Data courtesy of Special Agent Jack Riley (Graphic by Logan Jaffe)" />The <a href="http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2013/apr/01/ap-impact-cartels-dispatch-agents-deep-inside-us/">Sinaloa Cartel</a> uses Chicago as a hub to distribute throughout the Midwest. The cartel&rsquo;s equivalent of a CEO is <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/17/magazine/how-a-mexican-drug-cartel-makes-its-billions.html?pagewanted=all&amp;_r=1&amp;">El Chapo Guzman</a> and he&rsquo;s Chicago&rsquo;s Public Enemy No. 1. The last criminal bestowed with that title was Al Capone.</p><p>Riley said Mexican cartels still do the majority of trafficking of marijuana, but higher grades of marijuana arrive from the Pacific Northwest and Canada. At this point there&rsquo;s reason to suspect that &mdash; even if Illinois tokers could buy legal weed from corner stores &mdash; these folks would still stay in business.</p><p>&ldquo;Regardless of what we did on the legalization side, it would never eliminate the black market,&rdquo; Riley said.</p><p>I interviewed a guy who sells weed in the Chicago area. (For obvious legal reasons, he didn&rsquo;t want me to use his name.) He agrees with Riley and added, &ldquo;If they legalize it, I feel they gonna take all the good sh*t off the market and make it super expensive and sell all the bad sh*t for the legal consumption. I like it the way it is now.&rdquo;</p><p>He calls Mexican weed &ldquo;regular weed,&rdquo; lacking the potency of domestic marijuana. He said his weed comes from California and is known on the street as &ldquo;loud,&rdquo; which is a pun on the loud smell and signals that it was grown via hydroponics.</p><p>If Illinois legalizes marijuana, he said, the government would certainly tax the drug. But he explained that dealers already deal with a drug hierarchy and a tax of sorts: The weed connect sells to a middleman, who is charged a tax. That middleman might want to make $200 on the package, so he&rsquo;ll &ldquo;tax&rdquo; the next dealer.</p><p>But as the marijuana dealer I interviewed said, &ldquo;I can kind of deal with that than the government.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Natalie Moore is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/natalieymoore">@natalieymoore</a>.</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 01 May 2013 14:54:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/would-legal-pot-hit-chicago-gangs%E2%80%99-pocketbooks-106938 Reporter's Notebook: If Illinois legalizes marijuana, how could that affect the economics of the drug trade among gangs? http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/reporters-notebook-if-illinois-legalizes-marijuana-how-could-affect-economics <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/pot leaf.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="650" src="http://embed.verite.co/timeline/?source=0An_OJm0YASWadHhMMWQ4VHJmck5yMEdBNTlNRi1nZGc&amp;font=PTSerif-PTSans&amp;maptype=toner&amp;lang=en&amp;height=650" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/about-curious-city-98756">Curious City</a>&nbsp;is a news-gathering experiment designed to satisfy the public&#39;s curiosity.&nbsp;People&nbsp;<a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/#!/ask">submit questions</a>,&nbsp;<a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/#!/ask">vote&nbsp;</a>for their favorites, and WBEZ reports out the winning questions in real time, on&nbsp;<a href="http://www.facebook.com/curiouscityproject">Facebook</a>,&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/#!/WBEZCuriousCity">Twitter&nbsp;</a>and the timeline above.</p><p>Siva Iyer from Elmhurt&nbsp;asked:&nbsp;If Illinois legalizes marijuana, how could that affect the economics of the drug trade among gangs? WBEZ reporter Natalie Moore investigates.&nbsp;</p><p>Where do you think we should start this investigation? How would you answer this? Comment below!</p></p> Fri, 29 Mar 2013 15:06:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/reporters-notebook-if-illinois-legalizes-marijuana-how-could-affect-economics Crowds descend on downtown Chicago to protest school closings, 127 ticketed http://www.wbez.org/news/crowds-descend-downtown-chicago-protest-school-closings-127-ticketed-106311 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/8596861162_a734e7f296_z.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><object height="338" width="601"><param name="flashvars" value="offsite=true&amp;lang=en-us&amp;page_show_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157633103902875%2Fshow%2F&amp;page_show_back_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157633103902875%2F&amp;set_id=72157633103902875&amp;jump_to=" /><param name="movie" value="http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=124984" /><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /><embed allowfullscreen="true" flashvars="offsite=true&amp;lang=en-us&amp;page_show_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157633103902875%2Fshow%2F&amp;page_show_back_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157633103902875%2F&amp;set_id=72157633103902875&amp;jump_to=" height="338" src="http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=124984" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="601"></embed></object></p><p>More than 100 people were cleared away by police at a Wednesday rally protesting Chicago Public Schools&#39;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-proposes-closing-53-elementary-schools-firing-staff-another-6-106202">proposal to close 54 schools</a>.</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/civil-disobedience-revs-against-school-closings-106353" target="_blank">A group including teacher union officials, parents, janitors, lunch ladies and ministers sat down in front of City Hall. </a>Police asked each individual to leave. When they refused, police led them away.</p><p>The Chicago Police Department says it ticketed 127 people. At the rally, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis called the closings a &quot;land grab and a power grab,&quot; and said they were part of an attempt to privatize the school system. For more on the rally, see WBEZ coverage <a href="http://www.wbez.org/civil-disobedience-revs-against-school-closings-106353" target="_blank">here</a>.</p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel Wednesday stood by the district&#39;s decision to close schools, saying <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-addresses-race-chicago-school-closure-plan-106325" target="_blank">the status quo is not working</a>.</p><p>Prior to the protest, the CTU had been training parents, teachers and community organizations in civil disobedience and had said it planned for 150 people to be arrested . &nbsp;A <a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/441102002634744/">Facebook </a>announcement for the rally warned, &ldquo;They want to shut down our schools, we&rsquo;ll shut down the city.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Chicago&rsquo;s pubic schools are out for spring break this week, leaving students and teachers free to join in the rush-hour rally, organized by the teachers union and a coalition of other unions and community groups.&nbsp; Chicago Public Schools erected barricades Monday outside its headquarters in preparation. &nbsp;A spokeswoman said that&rsquo;s common practice in situations where the district gets advance word of a protest.</p><p dir="ltr">Chicago Public Schools is also <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/leaked-memo-tells-principals-keep-eye-school-closings-protesters-106301">preparing principals for acts of civil disobedience</a> at their schools, though not necessarily today. A memo sent to principals at closing schools lists lockdowns, walk-outs, sit-ins and &ldquo;Occupy&rdquo; actions as possibilities. It outlines &ldquo;overall guidelines for the prevention of civil disobedience&rdquo; and suggests principals &ldquo;be approachable and supportive to feelings of unrest, anxiety, or dissatisfaction.&rdquo; It also instructs principals to &ldquo;observe and report all information regarding possible protestors, locations, dates and times,&rdquo; and to note which community organizations or news organizations are present.</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-proposes-closing-53-elementary-schools-firing-staff-another-6-106202">In addition to closing 53 elementary schools</a> and one small high school, the district wants to completely re-staff six additional elementary schools. It is also proposing 23 schools share 11 buildings beginning next fall; some of those are new schools that will just be opening.</p><p dir="ltr">The district says closing the 54 schools will offer students a better education because it will allow scarce resources to be spread across fewer schools. Many of the schools slated for closure have fewer than 300 students. For the first time in more than a decade of school closings, CPS is saying it will put significant money into receiving schools, promising students air conditioning, libraries with new books, &ldquo;learning gardens&rdquo; and iPads, along with social workers and counselors to help students adjust.</p><p dir="ltr">The teachers union has said it wants no schools closed, and parents at the individual schools slated for consolidation have brought up their own concerns, from longer walks to school in winter weather to fear for their children crossing into rival gang territory.</p><p dir="ltr">Earlier this month in Philadelphia, 19 activists were arrested at a meeting where the Philadelphia School Reform Commission voted to close 23 schools; the head of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, was among those arrested. The Chicago Teachers Union says Weingarten, who appeared at rallies here during the teachers strike in September, is not expected to be in Chicago today.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Linda Lutton is an education reporter for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/wbezeducation">@WBEZeducation</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 27 Mar 2013 11:05:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/crowds-descend-downtown-chicago-protest-school-closings-127-ticketed-106311 Year 25: Ameena Matthews http://www.wbez.org/series/year-25/year-25-ameena-matthews-105541 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F79283061" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>It&#39;s hard to track down Ameena Matthews.</p><p>She&#39;s constantly on call, always ready to keep conflicts in the city&#39;s most&nbsp;<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/ameena.jpeg" style="float: right;" title="(Photo courtesy of Kartemquin Films)" />dangerous neighborhoods from escalating to homicide.</p><p>Matthews is a violence interrupter with <a href="http://cureviolence.org/">CeaseFire Illinois</a>. You may have seen her in the documentary <a href="http://interrupters.kartemquin.com/">The Interrupters</a>.&nbsp;</p><p>During a time where it seems everyone and anyone is talking about gun violence, we thought it fitting to see what Matthews has to say and what she was up to at 25.</p><p>She wasn&#39;t always the one breaking up the fights and trying to keep the peace &mdash; gang life was a big part of her growing up.</p><p>Her father, Jeff Fort, is one of Chicago&#39;s well-known gang leaders. And Matthews will tell you herself, she didn&#39;t think she&#39;d live to see 25, as most of her youth was wrapped up in life on the streets.</p><p>That&#39;s where she begins the story of her 25th year.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 14 Feb 2013 15:39:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/year-25/year-25-ameena-matthews-105541 Cops: Honor student killed by Chicago gang members http://www.wbez.org/news/cops-honor-student-killed-chicago-gang-members-105472 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F78971702" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><em>Updated: 1:30 p.m.</em></p><p>A judge has ordered two gang members held without bail in the death of a 15-year-old Chicago honor student.</p><p>Cook County Judge Israel Desierto on Tuesday ordered 18-year-old Michael Ward and 20-year-old Kenneth Williams held.</p><p>Prosecutors say they have cellphone records placing Williams in the same area where Hadiya Pendleton was shot. They say Ward told police his gang and a rival gang had been shooting at each other since 2010. Ward said the rival gang killed one of his friends and he was still upset.</p><p>Pendleton died after being shot in a park about a mile from the Chicago home of President Barack Obama on Jan. 29, just days after she performed during his inauguration festivities in Washington. Her death was among dozens of homicides in Chicago last month, though her background and ties to Obama thrust her death into the national headlines.</p><p>Ward and Williams were charged Monday with first-degree murder, two counts of attempted murder and aggravated battery with a firearm, Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said Monday night. Both were taken into custody late Saturday while on their way to a strip club &mdash; and just hours after first lady Michelle Obama and other dignitaries attended Pendleton&#39;s funeral.</p><p>&quot;Ward confessed and indicated Hadiya was not the intended target. They got it all wrong,&quot; McCarthy said.</p><p>Pendleton, a popular high school majorette, was with a group of friends who took cover during a rainstorm under a canopy in a park about a mile from the Obama home on the city&#39;s South Side. Police said a man hopped a fence, ran toward them and opened fire with a handgun before fleeing in a waiting car. Pendleton was struck in the back and died later that day. Two others were injured.</p><p>McCarthy said Ward told investigators he thought he was shooting into the crowd of a rival gang, and that the shooting was meant as retaliation for Williams being shot in the arm in July. Police said neither Pendleton nor her friends were affiliated with gangs.</p><p>Williams, who refused to cooperate with authorities after the July shooting, was driving the getaway car, McCarthy said. He added that both men were arrested while on their way to a strip club to celebrate a friend&#39;s birthday Saturday night.</p><p>Pendleton&#39;s death was one of more than 40 homicides in Chicago in January, a total that made it the deadliest January in the city in more than a decade. But her murder attracted national attention and helped put Chicago at the center of a national debate over gun control.</p><p>Not only did the first lady attend the teen&#39;s funeral, but the girl&#39;s parents were set to sit with Michelle Obama during the president&#39;s State of the Union address on Tuesday night. Obama is scheduled to return to Chicago three days later to discuss gun violence.</p><p>Homicides in Chicago topped 500 last year for the first time since 2008, stoking residents&#39; concerns about gun violence and leading the police department to put more officers on the street and to focus more on combatting gangs.</p><p>McCarthy, who is pushing for tougher gun laws that would increase minimum sentences for gun crimes, noted that Ward was arrested in January 2011 on a gun charge but he received probation after pleading guilty to unlawful use of a weapon. If Chicago had laws like those in New York City, McCarthy said, Ward wouldn&#39;t have been on the streets.</p><p>&quot;This has to stop. Gun offenders have to do significant jail time,&quot; said McCarthy, who rose through the ranks of New York City&#39;s police and is the former police director in Newark, N.J.</p><p>McCarthy said the arrests occurred after police figured out that the description of the car in which the shooter fled matched the description of a vehicle in which Williams had been pulled over a day before the shootings. The police superintendent noted it didn&#39;t come from a tip from the community.</p><p>&quot;I&#39;m sad to point out we did not get our target audience to step up,&quot; he said.</p><p>Just as the December killing of 20 children and six adults at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., brought renewed scrutiny of the nation&#39;s gun laws, the death of the popular Chicago teen has cast the city&#39;s gun violence in a new light.</p><p>Earlier Monday, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel seemed to make just that point.</p><p>&quot;The only time when the gun issue ever gets affected is when Newtown happens,&quot; he said. &quot;What happens in urban areas around the country too often ... gets put to the side.&quot;</p><p>He said that while it&#39;s not wrong that massacres stir such debate, what happens on the streets of Chicago and in other urban areas &quot;gets put in a different value system.&quot;</p><p>&quot;These are our kids,&quot; he said, his voice rising. &quot;These are our children.&quot;</p><p>Emanuel joined McCarthy and Cook County State&#39;s Attorney Anita Alvarez at an afternoon news conference to announce they would push for tougher gun laws that would increase the minimum sentences and require offenders to serve at least 85 percent of their sentences.</p><p>They say the law now allows offenders to be released after serving no more than half their sentences and sometimes obtain their release after a matter of weeks.</p></p> Mon, 11 Feb 2013 20:18:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/cops-honor-student-killed-chicago-gang-members-105472 Violence, gangs scar Chicago community in 2012 http://www.wbez.org/news/violence-gangs-scar-chicago-community-2012-104620 <p><p>It was February, the middle of lunch hour on a busy South Side street. The gunman approached his victim in a White Castle parking lot, shot him in the head, then fled down an alley.</p><p>The next month, one block away, also on West 79th Street: Two men in hooded sweatshirts opened fire at the Bishop Golden convenience store. They killed one young man and wounded five others, including a nephew of basketball superstar Dwyane Wade. The shooters got away in a silver SUV.</p><p>In July, a Saturday night, two men were walking on 79th when they were approached by a man who killed one and injured the other. This shooting resulted in a quick arrest; police had a witness, and a security camera caught the shooting.</p><p>These three violent snapshots of a single Chicago street are not exceptional. It&#39;s been a bloody year in the nation&#39;s third-largest city.</p><p>A spike in murders and shootings &mdash; much of it gang-related &mdash; shocked Chicagoans, spurred new crime-fighting strategies and left indelible images: Mayor Rahm Emanuel voicing outrage about gang crossfire that killed a 7-year-old named Heaven selling candy in her front yard. Panicked mourners scrambling as shots ring out on the church steps at a funeral for a reputed gang leader. Girls wearing red high school basketball uniforms, filing by the casket of a 16-year-old teammate shot on her porch.</p><p>A handful of neighborhoods were especially hard hit, among them Auburn-Gresham; the police district&#39;s 43 homicides (as of Dec. 21) ranked highest in the city, and represent an increase of about 20 percent over 2011. The outbreak, fueled partly by feuds among rival factions of Chicago&#39;s largest gang, the Gangster Disciples, rippled along 79th street, the main commercial drag. That single corridor offers a window into the wider mayhem that claimed lives, shattered families and left authorities scrambling for answers.</p><p>The scars aren&#39;t obvious, at first. Drive down West 79th and there&#39;s Salaam, a pristine white building of Islamic design, and The Final Call, the restaurant and newspaper operated by the Nation of Islam. Leo Catholic High School for young men. A health clinic. A beauty supply store. Around the corners, neat brick bungalows and block club signs warning: &quot;No Littering. No Loitering. No Loud Music.&quot;</p><p>Look closer, though, and there are signs of distress and fear: Boarded-up storefronts. Heavy security gates on barber shops and food marts. Thick partitions separating cash registers from customers at the Jamaican jerk and fish joints. Police cars watching kids board city buses at the end of the school day.</p><p>Go a few blocks south of 79th to a food market where a sign bears a hand-scrawled message: &quot;R.I.P. We Love You Eli,&quot; honoring a clerk killed in November in an apparent robbery. Or a block north to the front lawn of St. Sabina church where photos were added this year to a glass-enclosed memorial for young victims of deadly violence over the years.</p><p>Then go back to a corner of 79th, across the street and down the block from where two killings occurred, both gang-related.</p><p>There, in an empty lot, a wooden cross stands tall in the winter night. Painted in red is a plea:</p><p>&quot;STOP SHOOTING.&quot;</p><p>Gang violence isn&#39;t new, but it became a major theme in the Chicago narrative this year.</p><p>Maybe it was because of the audacity of gang members posting YouTube videos in which they flashed wads of cash and guns. The sight of police brandishing automatic weapons, standing watch outside gang funerals. The sting of one more smiling young face on a funeral program. Or dramatic headlines in spring and summer, such as: &quot;13 people shot in Chicago in 30-minute period.&quot;</p><p>It was alarming enough for President Barack Obama to mention it during the campaign, noting murders near his South Side home. Then, addressing gun violence in the aftermath of the Newtown, Conn., school shooting, he cited Chicago again.</p><p>As grim as it is, Chicago&#39;s murder rate was almost double in the early 1990s &mdash; averaging around 900 &mdash; before violent crime began dropping in cities across America. This year&#39;s increase, though, is a sharp contrast to New York, where homicides fell 21 percent from 2011, as of early December.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP804403038679_0.jpg" style="float: right; height: 247px; width: 350px;" title="In this Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012 photo, Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in Chicago. (AP File)" />Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy says while murders and shootings are up, overall crime citywide is down about 9 percent. He says crime-fighting strategies against gangs &mdash; some just put into place this year &mdash; are working, but they take time.</p><p>&quot;The city didn&#39;t get in this shape overnight,&quot; he says. &quot;I think that we&#39;re doing ourselves a disservice by advertising a Vietnam-type body count. I&#39;ve got to tell you when I speak to people ... they generally say, &#39;You know what? We don&#39;t even hear that anymore. It&#39;s white noise.&#39;... The fascination unfortunately seems to be in the media and it&#39;s become a national obsession.&quot;</p><p>After the 500th homicide was reported, McCarthy released a statement saying the pace of violent crime had slowed since early 2012. Murders skyrocketed 66 percent in the first quarter of the year over the same period in 2011; by the fourth quarter, the increase had dropped to 15 percent, he said. For shootings, it was a 40 percent hike in the first quarter and 11 percent in the last quarter compared with 2011. The superintendent called the numbers &quot;great progress.&quot;</p><p>Up to 80 percent of Chicago&#39;s murders and shootings are gang-related, according to police. By one estimate, the city has almost 70,000 gang members. A police audit last spring identified 59 gangs and 625 factions; most are on the South and West sides.</p><p>Gangs in Chicago have a long, dangerous history, some operating with the sophistication and hierarchy of corporations. In the 1980s, the leaders of the El Rukns were convicted of conspiring in a terrorism-for-hire scheme designed to collect millions from the Libyan government. Before the feds took down the leadership of the Gangster Disciples in the 1990s, the group had its own clothing line and political arm.</p><p>Nowadays, gangs are less structured and disputes more personal, says Eric Carter, commander of the Gresham district, home to 11 factions of the Gangster Disciples. &quot;It&#39;s strictly who can help me make money,&quot; he says. &quot;Lines have become blurred and alliances have become very fragile.&quot;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP12061213939_0.jpg" style="height: 233px; width: 350px; float: left;" title="In Chicago , homicides are up over 50 percent over last year. In some of the West and South side streets its guns, gangs and drugs. On a recent Saturday night the Chicago Police gang enforcement unit stopped a car with four suspected gang members and arrested one of them on a warrant. (AP File)" />Carter says a gang narcotics dispute that started about six years ago is at the root of a lot of violence in his district.</p><p>Another change among gangs is the widespread use of YouTube, Facebook and other social media to taunt one another and spread incendiary messages. &quot;One insult thrown on Facebook and Twitter becomes the next potential for a shooting incident on the street,&quot; Carter says.</p><p>McCarthy, who has consulted with criminologists, has implemented several plans, including an audit that identifies every gang member and establishing a long-term police presence in heavy drug-dealing areas, aimed at drying up business.</p><p>In two districts, police also have partnered controversially with CeaseFire Illinois, an anti-violence group that has hired convicted felons, including former gang members, to mediate street conflicts. McCarthy, who has expressed reservations about the organization, is taking a wait-and-see attitude.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s a work in progress,&quot; he says. &quot;It hasn&#39;t shown a lot of success yet.&quot;</p><p style="text-align: center;">___</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em><strong>AMONG THE DEAD:</strong> An 18-year-old walking on a sidewalk. A 36-year-old at a backyard party. A 28-year-old in a car two blocks from the police station. A 40-year-old convenience store clerk, on the job just two months.</em></p><p style="text-align: center;">___</p><p>In a storefront on 79th, Curtis Toler has a map of the street and surrounding area with 10 stick pins. Each represents a homicide in 2012.</p><p>Toler, a former gang member, spent much of his life causing chaos. Now, he&#39;s preaching calm. As a supervisor at CeaseFire, his job is to ease tensions and defuse disputes before they explode.</p><p>Violence, he says, has become so commonplace, people are desensitized to death.</p><p>&quot;I don&#39;t think we take it as hard as we should,&quot; he says. &quot;When someone gets killed, there should be an uproar. But the ambulance comes, scoops them up, nobody says anything and it&#39;s back to business.&quot;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP12061213868.jpg" style="height: 233px; width: 350px; float: right;" title="In Chicago, homicides are up over 50 percent over last year. On a recent Saturday night people residents strolled by as a young man was being arrested. (AP File)" />Toler&#39;s own life was shaped by guns and drugs. &quot;In the early &#39;90s, I was going to funerals back to back to back,&quot; he says. &quot;When you&#39;re out there, you think you pretty much got it coming. It&#39;s a kill-or-be-killed mentality.&quot;</p><p>As he tells it, he was in a gang (in another neighborhood) from ages 9 to 30, including a six-year prison stint for involuntary manslaughter. He was shot six times, he says; he lifts a gray stocking cap pulled low over his head and presses a thumb over his right eyebrow to show the spot where a bullet struck. &quot;I was blessed&quot; to survive, he says, with a gap-toothed smile.</p><p>He was once so notorious, Toler says, that one day about a decade ago his grandmother returned from a community policing gathering and began crying. &quot;She said, &#39;The whole meeting was about you. ... You and your friends are destroying the whole community. ... You&#39;re my grandson, but they&#39;re talking about you like you&#39;re an animal.&#39;&quot;</p><p>Now a 35-year-old father of four, Toler says he decided to go straight about five years ago. He knows some police don&#39;t believe his transformation. He regrets things he&#39;s done, he says, and for a time had trouble sleeping. &quot;Life has its way of getting back at you one way or another,&quot; he says. &quot;I believe in the law of reciprocity.&quot;</p><p>Toler&#39;s message to a new generation on the streets: I keep asking them,&#39; What&#39;s the net worth on your life? There is no price.... You only get one. It&#39;s not a video game.&#39;&quot;</p><p>&quot;You get some guys who listen,&quot; Toler says, &quot;and some who really don&#39;t care. ... They say, &#39;I&#39;m going to die anyway.&#39;&quot;</p><p>Two blocks east in another storefront on 79th, Carlos Nelson works to bring a different kind of stability to Gresham.</p><p>As head of the Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corp., he lures businesses to a community that despite its problems, has well-established merchants and middle-class residents who&#39;ve lived here for decades.</p><p>But Nelson, a 49-year-old engineering graduate raised in Gresham, sees changes since he was a kid, most notably the easy access to guns. &quot;These aren&#39;t six-shooters,&quot; he says. &quot;These are automatic weapons.&quot;</p><p>Police say they&#39;ve seized more than 7,000 guns in arrests this year. Strict gun control measures in Chicago and Illinois have been tossed out by federal courts, most recently the state ban on carrying concealed weapons.</p><p>Nelson says he sees limited progress despite new crime-fighting approaches. &quot;The Chicago police department is a lot like a rat on a wheel,&quot; he says. &quot;They&#39;re getting nowhere. They put metal detectors in the schools but they don&#39;t put that same amount of money in to educate our kids.&quot;</p><p>But Nelson also believes the problem goes beyond policing. A cultural shift is needed, he says, to break the cycle of generations of young men seeing no options.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s almost like the walking dead,&quot; he says. &quot;They&#39;re emotionless about shootings or death or drugs. They think that&#39;s all that&#39;s expected of them ... that they will die or end up in jail. That&#39;s a hell of an existence. That&#39;s truly sad.&quot;</p><p style="text-align: center;">___</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em><strong>AMONG THE LIVING:</strong> A 17-year-old hit in the leg, wrist and foot while in a park. A 13-year-old struck in the back while riding his bicycle, A 38-year-old shot in the face while driving.</em></p><p style="text-align: center;">___</p><p>Cerria McComb tried to run when the bullet exploded in her leg, but she didn&#39;t get far.</p><p>Someone heard her screams, her mother says, and rushed outside to help her make a call.</p><p>&quot;Mommy, mommy, I&#39;ve been shot!&quot; Cerria cried into the phone.</p><p>Bobbie McComb ran six blocks, her husband outpacing her. &quot;I&#39;m panicking,&quot; she recalls. &quot;I can&#39;t catch my breath. All I could think of was I didn&#39;t want it to be the last time I heard her voice, the last time I saw her.&quot;</p><p>Cerria and a 14-year-old male friend were wounded. The bullet lodged just an inch from an artery in the back of Cerria&#39;s right knee, according to her mother, who says her daughter is afraid to go out since the early December shooting.</p><p>Police questioned a reputed gang member they believe was the intended target; Cerria, they say, just happened to be in the wrong place.</p><p>&quot;I&#39;m angry,&quot; McComb says. &quot;I&#39;m frustrated. I&#39;m tired of them shooting our kids, killing our kids, thinking they can get away with it. ... If it was my son or my daughter standing out there with a gun, I would call the police on them.&quot;</p><p>A few blocks west, on 78th Place, another mother, Pam Bosley, sits at the youth center of St. Sabina Church, trying to keep teens on track. The parish is run by the Rev. Michael Pfleger, a firebrand white priest in an overwhelmingly black congregation whose crusades against violence, drugs and liquor and cigarette billboards are a staple of local news.</p><p>Bosley&#39;s 18-year-old son, Terrell, a college freshman and gospel bass player, was killed in 2006 when he and friends were shot while unloading musical equipment outside a church on the far South Side. A man charged was acquitted.</p><p>&quot;I think about him all day and all night,&quot; Bosley says of her son. &quot;If I stop, I&#39;ll lose my mind.&quot;</p><p>Bosley works with kids 14 to 21, teaching them life and leadership skills and ways to reduce violence. Sometimes, she says, neglectful parents are the problem; often it&#39;s gangs who just don&#39;t value life.</p><p>&quot;You know how you have duck (hunting) season in the woods?&quot; she asks. &quot;In urban communities, it&#39;s duck season for us every day. You never know when you&#39;re going to get shot.&quot;</p><p>In December, Bosley phoned to console the grieving mother of Porshe Foster, 15, who was shot a few miles away while standing outside with other kids. A young man in the group has said he believed the gunman was aiming at him.</p><p>&quot;I know how it feels to wake up in your house without your child, and you don&#39;t want to get out of bed, you don&#39;t feel like living,&quot; Bosley says.</p><p>St. Sabina is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. Bosley sent balloons to the girl&#39;s funeral.</p><p>On Dec. 6, hundreds celebrated the A-student who liked architecture and played on her school&#39;s volleyball and basketball teams.</p><p>Her brother, Robert, 22, says his sister &quot;knew what was going on in the streets as well as we did,&quot; but he didn&#39;t worry because she was either at school, home or church.</p><p>&quot;She was always a good girl,&quot; he says. &quot;She didn&#39;t have to look over her shoulder. She was a 15-year-old girl. She didn&#39;t ever do any wrong to anybody.&quot;</p><p style="text-align: center;">___</p><p>In March, St. Sabina parishioners, led by the Rev. Pfleger, marched through the streets in protest, calling out gang factions by name. They planted the &quot;Stop Killing&quot; cross on 79th.</p><p>In April, the priest and other pastors returned to 79th to successfully stop the reopening of a store where there was a mass shooting; they condemned it as a haven for gangs.</p><p>In December, Pfleger stood in his church gym, watching gang members hustle down the basketball court.</p><p>On this Monday night, in this gym, it was hard to tell who was who.</p><p>The basketball teams wore different colored T-shirts with the same word: Peacemaker. They&#39;re all part of Pfleger&#39;s 12-week basketball league, aimed at cooling gang hostilities by having rivals face each other on the court. Many players, from 16 to 27, have criminal records.</p><p>The league grew out of a single successful game this fall and has high-profile supporters, including Joakim Noah of the Chicago Bulls.</p><p>Pfleger says the games have helped players build relationships, see beyond gang affiliation and stop shooting each other, at least for now.</p><p>&quot;I have people tell me I&#39;m naive, I&#39;m stupid, I should be ashamed of myself working with these gangs,&quot; he says. &quot;I could care less. We&#39;ve demonized them so much we forget they&#39;re human beings.&quot;</p><p>But Pfleger also says games alone won&#39;t change anything. These young men need jobs and an education, and he&#39;s working on that.</p><p>&quot;When there&#39;s no alternative,&quot; he says, &quot;you&#39;ll continue to do what you do.&quot;</p></p> Sun, 30 Dec 2012 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/violence-gangs-scar-chicago-community-2012-104620 Chicago demolishes more than 250 vacant buildings http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-demolishes-more-250-vacant-buildings-104595 <p><p>The city of Chicago has demolished more than 250 vacant buildings this year in an effort to eliminate potential gang hangouts in high-crime neighborhoods.</p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement Thursday the demolitions are part of a joint initiative between Chicago police and the city&#39;s Department of Buildings.</p><p>The city has focused on vacant and dangerous buildings that could become havens for illegal activity such as drug use and prostitution. Buildings are targeted for demolition based on recommendations from the community and the number of calls for service received.</p></p> Fri, 28 Dec 2012 09:03:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-demolishes-more-250-vacant-buildings-104595