WBEZ | gun violence http://www.wbez.org/tags/gun-violence Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Standing in the gap: Parents in violent communities stress about keeping kids safe http://www.wbez.org/news/standing-gap-parents-violent-communities-stress-about-keeping-kids-safe-110670 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/kids.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>Fifty school-aged children died so far this year in Chicago. And in at least <a href="https://soundcloud.com/afternoonshiftwbez/arrest-made-in-shamiya-adams-murder">one case</a>, the child was killed while playing inside a friend&rsquo;s home&mdash;a setting that most parents would think is extremely safe. But for many parents living in neighborhoods where violence is a reality, even the most benign settings can feel unsafe and out of control.</p><p>Parents worry. Most never stop worrying about their children. It&rsquo;s a parent&rsquo;s job to protect and provide for their child; to help them grow and develop as individuals. So when a parent&rsquo;s abilities are compromised by things out of their control, it can be overwhelming.</p><p>On the far South Side of Chicago, in Roseland, crime and violence add to parents&rsquo; worries. Parents bite their fingernails in the summer months, when idle time leaves young people vulnerable to dangerous community elements.</p><p><a href="http://crime.chicagotribune.com/chicago/community/roseland">Fifty-five people</a> have been shot in Roseland so far this year; in the last month, there&rsquo;s been more than three dozen batteries and assaults in the neighborhood. The majority of the violent crimes in the neighborhood take place on the street or a sidewalk, which is why many parents say they&rsquo;re leery to send their kids outside to play.</p><p>James Brown, 44, keeps a close watch over his 12-year-old son Semaj. Brown says stories about stray bullets hitting innocent kids is a known factor in the community&mdash;and that the people pulling the triggers don&rsquo;t care who or what they&rsquo;re shooting. And so, Semaj isn&rsquo;t allowed to ride his bike unless his father&rsquo;s outside.</p><p>&ldquo;I just want to be out there...&rdquo; Brown explained, &ldquo;not saying I can protect them from it, I just want to be out there.&rdquo;</p><p>Brown wants to be everywhere when it comes to his only child. And he keeps Semaj very busy.</p><p>&ldquo;Right now, we playing baseball, then after baseball we play basketball...we play football. I have to keep him occupied..hanging out on the block is not an option at all, he knows that,&rdquo; Brown reasoned.</p><p>We. We play basketball, we play football: It would be hard for Brown not to feel like a member of the team, considering he goes to every game and practice.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s hard, it&rsquo;s hard...but I can&rsquo;t give my son to the streets. I can&rsquo;t give him to to the streets. I can&rsquo;t give him to people that act like they care but really don&rsquo;t care,&rdquo; Brown said.</p><p>Brown cares; not just about his son but about all the young men in Roseland. He&rsquo;s worked as a high school football coach in the community for the last two decades.</p><p>&ldquo;I coach football to save lives. I don&rsquo;t coach to be popular to be liked, I could care less if you like me. But it&rsquo;s an option for kids...to change their life,&rdquo; Brown said. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>But Brown felt there weren&rsquo;t any good little league options for his son in Roseland. So he spent the summer driving him to and from Englewood to play on its baseball team. His youngest sister, Victoria Harper Peeples, chose to do the same with her two boys. Both parents recognize the irony in taking their kids from one violent neighborhood to another to play little league.</p><p>&ldquo;People are immune to gunshots nowadays&mdash;as opposed to run for cover, they just sit there and act as if nothing happens&hellip;&rdquo; Harper Peeples lamented.</p><p>&ldquo;Well kids know &#39;hit the deck,&rsquo; wait for the shooting is over with and then get up and walk away. They know that. That&rsquo;s what we teach them. &lsquo;Cause you can&rsquo;t keep &lsquo;em in the house, you can&rsquo;t shelter them&hellip;&rdquo; Brown added.</p><p>Clinical psychologist <a href="http://www.uchospitals.edu/physicians/physician.html?id=6146" target="_blank">Brad Stolbach</a>, with the University of Chicago, has focused his entire career on children affected by trauma and violence. For nearly 20 years, he ran the Chicago Child Trauma Center at La Rabida Children&rsquo;s Hospital on the city&rsquo;s South Side. Stolbach said the constant, real threat of violence in communities like Roseland can be extremely stressful and disruptive.</p><p>&ldquo;If that&rsquo;s your top priority, is watching out and knowing when to hit the deck, it&#39;s very hard to attend to the normal tasks of daily life,&rdquo; Stolbach explained.</p><p>Moreover, Stolbach continued, parents really struggle when they feel like their child&rsquo;s safety is out of their control.</p><p>&ldquo;It&#39;s just the way we&#39;re wired, especially moms, that protecting their children is a biological imperative. It&#39;s the number one priority in a lot of ways. And so feeling powerless to do that, can be not just frustrating but can really affect how you feel about yourself as a parent and as a person.&rdquo;</p><p>And when your kid turns out to be the perpetrator of violence...well, that&rsquo;s tough too.</p><p>Diane Latiker raised eight kids in Roseland. She described her parenting style as overprotective, relentless even.</p><p>&ldquo;I have four sons and when they were growing up, they were in gangs and I knew it. I mean, I tried my best to spearhead them other ways...I mean, I was relentless. But I had to get them away from here...literally, all four of them, to save their lives,&rdquo; Latiker recalled.</p><p>She sent the boys to live with their father in a nearby suburban Bellwood. She thought her worries were nearly over when her youngest daughter was about 13. She could almost see the finish line&mdash;her days of worrying about kids hanging out around the neighborhood were numbered. But it was around that time when Latiker realized, it wasn&rsquo;t just her kids who needed looking after.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;My mom worked; so when I came home from school, the block watched me when my mom was gone. Someone would see me out on the street and say, &lsquo;What are you doing Diane? Where you going Diane? Shouldn&rsquo;t you be in the house?&rsquo; So, you know, I never asked where their parents were or why they weren&rsquo;t doing...I just wanted to know what I could do to help fill in,&rdquo; she remembered.</p><p>Her foundation, <a href="http://www.kobchicago.org/">Kids Off the Block</a>, began with 10 of her daughter&#39;s friends. She invited them into her home and encouraged them to safely explore their interests and potential. Soon there were scores of kids in her living room and off the street. The kids no longer gather in her home, Latiker acquired a space next door. And while the network and foundation has grown, Latiker says the sense of community she remembers from her youth, or the &ldquo;neighbor - hood&rdquo; as she calls it, is still noticeably absent.</p><p>Latiker isn&rsquo;t the only person who thinks so.</p><p>Robert Douglas grew up in Roseland, on 114th and Prairie, in the late 80s and early 90s when the murder rate was double what it is today. Still, Douglas said he felt safer back then.</p><p>&ldquo;We had these backyards, right? That&rsquo;s where the neighbors got to know each other...now, they can&rsquo;t sit on the porch to get a breeze...because of the violence,&rdquo; Douglas said.</p><p>Douglas was a self-described &ldquo;gym rat&rdquo; growing up, which kept him out of trouble...for a while. But then his oldest brother was killed by gun violence.</p><p>&ldquo;My oldest brother was like...daddy. When he left, it was like...you know, hungry...where do we turn now?&rdquo; Douglas recalled.</p><p>Douglas never imagined what that kind of loss might feel like.</p><p>&ldquo;You don&rsquo;t know what it&rsquo;s like until you&rsquo;re burying someone to gun violence. You wouldn&rsquo;t...you could never imagine it,&rdquo; Douglas said.</p><p>He never imagined his response would be to turn to the streets. Douglas said the temptation was unavoidable.</p><p>&ldquo;Violence came to my front door,&rdquo; Douglas began. He rapped a few friendly but firm knocks onto the surface in front of him as he remembered his journey to a life of crime and violence. &ldquo;[Violence] said, &lsquo;Bob, what&rsquo;s up?&rsquo; And I opened the door and I went outside and I played.&rdquo;</p><p>Douglas doesn&rsquo;t want the same fate waiting for his children outside their door...no gangs, no drugs, no violence...none of it.</p><p>&ldquo;Ain&rsquo;t no way in the world I&rsquo;m gonna allow that to happen...and I&rsquo;m not moving out of Roseland. My wife want to go so bad...and she right...my children don&rsquo;t deserve it...they deserve better,&rdquo; Douglas said.</p><p>But Stolbach said it&rsquo;s important to understand that the idea of &ldquo;stopping the violence,&rdquo; is a fantasy until the reality of what causes it&mdash;poverty&mdash;is addressed.</p><p>&ldquo;If we continue to look at how horrible it is but that doesn&rsquo;t result in us trying to change what we&rsquo;re doing about it...that can be demoralizing,&quot; Stolbach explained.</p><p>But when parks and playgrounds are considered an unsafe place to play, when jobs and resources are limited, when neighbors have stopped looking out for one another, giving your kids better is hard.</p><p>And mom Harper Peeples said, it&rsquo;s already pretty tough.</p><p>&ldquo;We like superheroes for our children. Our kids look at us and be like, &lsquo;nothing goes wrong, we don&rsquo;t have any problems, we don&rsquo;t have any worries...&rsquo; But we be stressed out just trying to make sure, did I put them in the right school, did I let &lsquo;em hang with the right friends, did I put him on the right baseball team? There&rsquo;s just so many things that we have to do as parents, and we always put on the spotlight. I mean, it&rsquo;s no chance that mom or dad could make a mistake. We have to be almost like perfect individuals, at least in the sight of our children.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Katie O&rsquo;Brien is a WBEZ reporter and producer. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/katieobez">@katieobez</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 18 Aug 2014 15:52:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/standing-gap-parents-violent-communities-stress-about-keeping-kids-safe-110670 Mayor Emanuel's proposal to reduce gun violence stalls in Springfield http://www.wbez.org/news/mayor-emanuels-proposal-reduce-gun-violence-stalls-springfield-110200 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP758722197507_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A proposed state law intended to help reduce gun violence in Chicago is being shelved in Springfield in favor of forming a new committee to investigate the issue.</p><p>Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Supt. Garry McCarthy have prioritized longer prison sentences for gun crimes as a way to reduce the city&rsquo;s gun violence. The bill had called for increasing the mandatory prison sentence for unlawful use of a weapon to a minimum of three years in prison.</p><p>That measure saw some strong opposition from Illinois lawmakers who said it would add inmates to an already overcrowded prison system.</p><p>State Rep. Mike Zalewski, D-Riverside, wanted the longer prison sentences, but now says he&rsquo;s open to new compromises on several proposals to restructure sentencing guidelines. He referenced recent shootings in Chicago over the weekend as the reason he still&nbsp; supports the measure for mandatory prison sentences.</p><p>&ldquo;My guess is that many of those were committed by those who have no fear of our gun laws,&rdquo; Zalewski said. &ldquo;I tried to start the conversation with my bills earlier this year, but the conversations moved into a new direction and so I&rsquo;m hopeful that all that will come into play.&rdquo;</p><p>Zalewski is scheduled to ask a committee of House members Tuesday to create a small panel of Republicans and Democrats from both the House and Senate. That panel would lead discussions over the course of the year to negotiate sentencing guidelines.</p><p>&ldquo;If we can put a strategy in place that makes sure that the violent gun offenders are incarcerated and that (Supt. McCarthy) doesn&rsquo;t see them back out on the street in six months or four months or get a sentence like boot camp where they&rsquo;re back out in ten weeks, it makes his job a whole lot easier,&ldquo; Zalewski said.</p><p>Spokesmen for the mayor&rsquo;s office and the Chicago Police Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.</p><p><em>WBEZ&rsquo;s Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/tonyjarnold" target="_blank">@tonyjarnold</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 19 May 2014 16:49:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/mayor-emanuels-proposal-reduce-gun-violence-stalls-springfield-110200 Chicago Police: 6,500 guns seized so far this year http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-police-6500-guns-seized-so-far-year-109337 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP758722197507.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago Police say they have seized more than 6,500 illegal firearms this year.</p><p>The department routinely leads the nation in the number of guns seized by a wide margin. The latest totals put the force on pace to confiscate about 7,000 illegal guns for the year.</p><p>Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy has said that the seizure of illegal firearms is part of a crime fighting effort that has resulted in a significant drop in the number of homicides and shootings this year. In 2012 the city&#39;s violence &mdash; and a total of more than 500 homicides &mdash; caught the attention of the national media.</p><p>In a news release, McCarthy reiterated his contention that even tougher state and federal gun laws are needed to reduce those numbers.</p></p> Tue, 10 Dec 2013 10:46:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-police-6500-guns-seized-so-far-year-109337 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 Researchers say Emanuel should hire cops, not push mandatory minimums http://www.wbez.org/news/researchers-say-emanuel-should-hire-cops-not-push-mandatory-minimums-108967 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Cook County Jail Exterior Wildeboer.JPG" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Over the last year, when Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been asked about gun violence, he&rsquo;s talked about the need for three-year mandatory minimum sentences for people caught carrying illegal guns.</p><div><p dir="ltr">In many ways the mandatory minimums have been a centerpiece of the mayor&rsquo;s response to gun violence. His push for longer sentences reached a bit of a fever pitch last week as he held a press conference with the parents of young people who have been killed. With parents struggling to hold back tears, Emanuel reacted to estimates that it would cost as much as $130 million a year to house all the inmates who got the longer sentences.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I will never, ever, ever, accept the notion that a human life is reduced to whether a state budget can take in the issue from a cost benefit analysis, because there is no way I&rsquo;m going to look them in the eye and say, &lsquo;Cleo, Nate, Pam, the Worthams, I&rsquo;d like to give you a cost benefit analysis on how we look at the violent criminals that should have been behind bars,&rdquo; said Emanuel.</p><p dir="ltr">Now one thing about that: Emanuel doesn&rsquo;t actually need to worry about the cost/benefit analysis because all the costs would fall on the state, which pays for prisons, not on the city of Chicago.</p><p dir="ltr">As for the benefits, well, there&rsquo;s been a lot of hubbub about that recently.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>U of C memo challenges the new orthodoxy on mandatory minimums</strong></p><p dir="ltr">In response to the price tag, the University of Chicago Crime Lab released a research memo a week and a half ago arguing that Emanuel&rsquo;s mandatory minimums would actually be a good deal. Given the starring role mandatory minimums have played in this country&rsquo;s 40-year incarceration binge, Crime Lab Co-Director Harold Pollack says he understands people are skeptical of any effort to increase prison sentences.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I get that. I respect that,&rdquo; said Pollack. But, &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think we can allow that real historical context to blind us to the urgent need to deal more effectively and in a more focused way with the gun violence in this city.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Pollack says we&rsquo;re not talking about 25 years for drug possession. It&rsquo;s three years for carrying an illegal gun, a crime that creates a more dangerous environment for everyone.</p><p dir="ltr">The Crime Lab memo also argues that giving a three-year sentence to everyone caught carrying an illegal gun will incapacitate offenders who are likely to reoffend and the crimes prevented will save taxpayers ---outweighing the costs of incarceration.</p><p dir="ltr">The memo also argues the mandatory minimums will deter crime.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;There&rsquo;s little evidence that making the consequences any more severe than they already are has a deterrent effect,&rdquo; said Daniel Nagin from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.</p><p dir="ltr">Nagin has studied what&nbsp;does&nbsp;deter crime. He says traditionally we&rsquo;ve thought that the certainty of punishment stops&nbsp;would-be criminals. That&rsquo;s the idea behind mandatory minimums.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;But when you look more closely at the evidence, the proper conclusion is that the certainty of apprehension is a very effective deterrent,&rdquo; said Nagin.</p><p dir="ltr">And who apprehends criminals? It&rsquo;s not mandatory minimums. It&rsquo;s police.</p><p dir="ltr">Nagin gives the example of two men getting into an argument. If one of them has a gun nearby, but there&rsquo;s a police car right there, he&rsquo;s unlikely to pull out the gun.</p><p dir="ltr">If Illinois is willing to spend $130 million on &ldquo;the problem of gun violence, they should direct those resources to policing,&rdquo; said Nagin.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Zalewski pushing Emanuel&rsquo;s bill in Springfield</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Mike Zalewski is the state representative sponsoring Emanuel&rsquo;s mandatory minimum bill in Springfield. We spent an hour talking in his loop law office about why he&rsquo;s sponsoring this bill, given the cost and the legacy of mandatory minimums.</p><p dir="ltr">He cited the crime lab memo but then went on to say, &ldquo;It&rsquo;s very nice to have studies and it&rsquo;s very nice to sit in offices and compile data and think about ways in which the world should work, but we don&rsquo;t live in that world when we have these shootings and Superintendent McCarthy doesn&rsquo;t live in that world, and Anita Alvarez doesn&rsquo;t live in that world and what they&rsquo;re telling us is they need help and when that happens, when law enforcement cries out for help, it&rsquo;s our duty to step up,&rdquo; Zalewski said.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Political Theater?</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Chicgao Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy has been making the case for mandatory minimums several times a week over the last year, but Frank Zimring, a criminologist who studied the astonishing crime decline in New York doesn&rsquo;t buy what McCarthy is selling.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Superintendent McCarthy knows better than he says here,&rdquo; Zimring said in a phone interview with WBEZ last week. &ldquo;If you injected truth serum in Superintendent McCarthy, he&rsquo;d tell you a somewhat different story.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Zimring says the 80 percent drop in crime and homicides over the last 20 years in New York City could not have been because of mandatory minimums. The mandatory minimums in New York City that McCarthy and Emanuel like to talk about weren&rsquo;t even passed there until 2006, after most of the crime decline had already occurred.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;What&rsquo;s going on here is much more theater,&rdquo; said Zimring.</p><p dir="ltr">Mike Tonry agrees. He teaches at the University of Minnesota Law School and is widely respected nationally as an expert on deterrence. He says, &ldquo;Laws like this are primarily symbolic. They&rsquo;re primarily a way that public officials can demonstrate that they are doing something about a disturbing problem even though there is no valid basis for believing that that something will make any difference in the real world.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">If Tonry and Zimring are right and this is political theater, it&rsquo;s pretty heavy theater. At a press conference last week Mayor Emanuel addressed the grieving parents who joined him, including Hadiya Pendleton&rsquo;s mother.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I want to thank you for, for taking your personal pain and trying to make it into a public good to make us better. And I know how painful it is to be here, to speak about this and I know this, Cleo, that it brings it all back and makes it fresh again,&rdquo; said Emanuel.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Researchers seem to agree on what it takes to bring down gun violence</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Emanuel has put some money into preventive programs and talks about the need for a comprehensive gun violence strategy. But if you&rsquo;re looking to reduce gun violence, there&rsquo;s one thing that all the researchers I talked to agree on: They all say there&rsquo;s lots of research that shows increasing the number of police brings down gun crime. Zimring, who studied New York City, says that city &nbsp;increased its police department by 41 percent in the 90s and that was one of the keys to its success.</p><p dir="ltr">But increasing the size of the Chicago&rsquo;s police department is one thing Emanuel has not done. Candidate Emanuel promised to use TIF money to hire a thousand new officers. He never did, though he repeatedly told the public he did. In fact, one of his spokespeople made the claim to me again last week.</p><p dir="ltr">In reality he shut down some large police units and shifted those officers to beats and said they were new officers on the street. That most certainly was political theater.</p><p dir="ltr">The last word will go to Steven Raphael. He teaches public policy at the University of California Berkeley. He has one fairly simple question for Illinois legislators considering Emanuel&rsquo;s mandatory minimums.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;If you&rsquo;re going to spend this amount of money to address this problem, what is the best use of these funds? You&rsquo;ve considered one alternative that at the moment the rest of the country is abandoning and so, is there another way that these monies could be used to combat crime,&rdquo; Raphael said.</p><p>Rep. Zalewski, the sponsor of the bill, says he didn&rsquo;t have the votes he needed in the spring, but that now may be the right time to bring mandatory minimums to a vote.</p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 21 Oct 2013 05:08:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/researchers-say-emanuel-should-hire-cops-not-push-mandatory-minimums-108967 CPS janitor sees schools as safe haven http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/cps-janitor-sees-schools-safe-haven-108265 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/RS7359_izabela and maxine-scr.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Maxine Gladney has seen violence hit her schools, her community and her own family. As a janitor at a Chicago Public School, she worries that closing schools will make that violence even worse, leaving children without a safe haven. For Gladney, public schools are a place where many kids come to get what they might not be getting at home - food, love and stability.</p><p>Gladney visited the Chicago StoryCorps booth with Izabela Miltko, the spokeswoman for the janitors&rsquo; union, to talk about her fears for the city&rsquo;s children and herself.</p><p><strong>Izabela:</strong> &hellip; Were you affected by the huge school closings in Chicago?</p><p><strong>Maxine</strong>:&nbsp; I was not affected per se, but a lot of my friends were, and my grandchildren were because two of their schools closed. You know, they have to be bused to other schools and I&rsquo;m afraid that they&rsquo;re going to get hurt, out of their area, out of their comfort zone. A lot of our children are going to drop out of school because they&rsquo;re afraid.....</p><p>Maxine said she isn&rsquo;t just afraid for the kids in her neighborhood and her family: There&rsquo;s so much gun violence, she&rsquo;s also afraid for herself.</p><p><strong>Maxine:</strong> April the 14th, I heard a gunshot -- I was laying in my bed after surgery, and I heard a young man say, &ldquo;Mama, they shot me.&rdquo; All I could think about was, I have a son, all I could hear was my son&rsquo;s voice saying, &ldquo;Mama, they shot me.&rdquo; I get up out of my bed, and I go to the back door. This young man is laying at my back door bleeding to death.</p><p><strong>Izabela:</strong> So what did you do next, I mean, did you call the police, how did you respond to that?</p><p><strong>Maxine:</strong> I really panicked. Like I said, I had just had surgery. He said, &ldquo;Help me, I&rsquo;m dying.&rdquo;&nbsp; I said, &ldquo;No, you&rsquo;re not.&rdquo; I began to pray with him...</p><p>To find out what happened next and to hear more about Maxine&rsquo;s personal experiences with violence, listen to the audio above.</p><p><em>Katie Mingle is a producer for WBEZ and the Third Coast Festival.&nbsp;</em></p><p>&nbsp;</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>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 02 Aug 2013 12:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/cps-janitor-sees-schools-safe-haven-108265 Artists turn up volume on gun violence debate http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2013-07/artists-turn-volume-gun-violence-debate-108080 <p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-703a8a48-eced-3c66-a3fb-e5fa8ca03c3d"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/just%20yell%20at%20monique%20meloche%20gallery.jpg" style="height: 414px; width: 620px;" title="Just Yell Exhibition, Cheryl Pope, 2013 (James Prinz Photography, courtesy of the artist and moniquemeloche gallery) " />One of the ideas that circulated <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/14/mark-omara-george-zimmerman-black_n_3593337.html">around</a> the recent Trayvon Martin murder trial is that African-Americans only care when white people kill black people.</p><p dir="ltr">Critics have debunked that very notion as both a <a href="http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/07/15/the-trayvon-martin-killing-and-the-myth-of-black-on-black-crime.html">myth</a> and an oversimplification, one that can obscure the way black communities <em>do</em> rally to respond to neighborhood violence, or how whites <em>do</em> sometimes resort to racist stereotypes in talking about criminality.</p><p dir="ltr">Now another reaction to this idea of black-on-black violence can be found at <a href="http://www.dusablemuseum.org/events/details/kkk-kin-killin-kin-the-arts-as-an-agent-of-change">KKK - Kin Killin&rsquo; Kin</a>, a new exhibition at <a href="http://www.dusablemuseum.org/">The DuSable Museum of African American History</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">The show is by James Pate, an artist based in Dayton, Ohio. He believes blacks may well respond more vocally when white people kill blacks, a response he attributes to a psychological state that is a &ldquo;residue&rdquo; of historical experiences like lynchings: &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a sensitivity that to me is unreasonable,&rdquo; said Pate. &ldquo;But I think that&#39;s where it comes from, this imbalance in the uproar.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">But the more provocative aspect of Pate&rsquo;s work may be the way he<em> himself </em>represents black people.</p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/K%2C%202%20Da%20K%2C%202%20Da%20K%2C%20II.jpg" style="float: left; height: 220px; width: 300px;" title="Since 2000, James Pate has been depicting gang members in Ku Klux Klan robes, out of “frustration” with ongoing gun violence. (Photo Andy Snow, courtesy EbonNia Gallery)" />In large charcoal-on-canvas drawings, full of complex layers and details so exacting they almost appear to be 3-D renderings, Pate depicts gun-toting young black men as members of the Ku Klux Klan. Clad in sports jerseys, chains and white hoods, the boys shoot indiscriminately at one another, while bystanders are caught in the crossfire, including a young child on a swing.</p><p dir="ltr">In the wake of Trayvon Martin&rsquo;s killing, to show gang members clad in the robes of white racist vigilantes is a challenge, to say the least. But Pate said he has no choice.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It is difficult for me to react any other way as an artist,&rdquo; said Pate, who&rsquo;s been making these images since 2000. &ldquo;It is extreme to me, so I decided to do something as extreme as I can imagine, within what I &nbsp;do as an artist, stylistically.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Pate said his art stems from conversations in the black community, &ldquo;about how black-on-black violence has replaced the KKK form of terrorism. I decided that to sort of curb my blues, I would illustrate that sentiment and show them going at it and some of the aftermath of these acts.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Your%20History%20II.jpg" style="float: right; height: 218px; width: 300px;" title="Your History II, James Pate, 2007 Civil rights activists as passive observers of contemporary gun violence. (Photo Andy Snow, courtesy EbonNia Gallery)" /></p><p dir="ltr">Pate&rsquo;s images also juxtapose contemporary violence with action from other historical moments. In the foreground of <em>Your History III</em>, two young men drawn in bold relief shoot each other with semi-automatic pistols. On either side of the frame, drawn in fainter tones, there are rows of young men, seated at a restaurant counter, who appear to be witnesses to the shooting.</p><p dir="ltr">Pate said his reference to the lunch counter protests of the Civil Rights Movement poses a question: &ldquo;What in the world happened between that ideal and that mentality, and that sacrifice - and this?&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Pate&rsquo;s images cite other historical figures, from black Union soldiers to Adolf Hitler to Jam Master Jay of Run-DMC. There are even allusions to the crowds who came out to watch lynchings during the height of the Klan&rsquo;s raids, depicted here as passive witnesses to violent acts.</p><p dir="ltr">That passivity comes across as a critique of community indifference or action. But Pate said his work also reflects &ldquo;a frustration that I&#39;m experiencing because I don&#39;t know what to do, and all I do know is that in art I can go there and turn my volume up a bit.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Pate said reaction to the work (which was shown previously in Ohio), ranges from recognition to anger, the latter especially from blacks who feel he&rsquo;s airing dirty laundry. In response, Pate said that laundry was hung out long ago.</p><p dir="ltr">Carol Adams, who heads the DuSable and brought the show to Chicago, agrees.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;If the show offends a little bit, well, we&rsquo;ve been way too polite,&rdquo; Adams said. &ldquo;It is a madness, and it is time to scream.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Local audiences already seem to be paying attention. At the exhibition&rsquo;s entrance, visitors are invited to write the names of deceased friends and family on small manila tags and attach them to stretches of chain-link fence installed for the show. Even before the show opened, museumgoers started filling out the tags - there are already more than a hundred on display.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>&lsquo;KKK - Kin Killin&rsquo; Kin,&rsquo; The DuSable Museum of African American History, through Aug. 3. James Pate will give a gallery talk on Thursday, Aug. 1, from 6:30 - 9 p.m.</em></p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.cherylpope.net/HOME.html">Cheryl Pope</a> is another artist turning up the volume around the violence debate in her show <em>Just Yell</em>, which is at the <a href="http://moniquemeloche.com/cheryl-pope-just-yell/">moniquemeloche gallery </a>through Aug. 3.</p><p dir="ltr">The show&rsquo;s name references the first cheerleaders, known as &ldquo;yellers,&rdquo; who in the late 19th century got up in front of crowds and started to call out cheers.</p><p dir="ltr">Both the structure of Pope&rsquo;s show (which is a collaboration with students from public schools across the city) and the works she&rsquo;s created (which include a yearbook, a spirit stick, and a large wall-mounted varsity patch) are efforts to invoke the team mentality and powerful spirit of the yellers.</p><p dir="ltr">But in place of sports cheers, Pope offers what she calls &ldquo;testimonials&rdquo;: the words of students, who, in response to prompts from Pope, wrote about their reactions to violence and what that makes them want to &ldquo;yell.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/remember%20to%20remember.jpg" style="height: 227px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="'Remember to Remember' is a roster of young victims of gun violence in Chicago over an 18 month period. (James Prinz Photography, courtesy of the artist and moniquemeloche gallery)" />Those cries take different forms. In <em>Remember to Remember</em>, Pope has arranged rows of small gold plates engraved with the names of young victims of violence. &nbsp;Mixed in among those names are haikus from students past and present, including one Pope said was written <a href="http://wgntv.com/news/stories/2-teens-shot-1-dies/">by shooting victim Hadiya Pendleton</a> when she was in the third grade. Pope said the poetic phrases (one reads &ldquo;here i am/you thought i was gone/so i love&rdquo;), which are engraved on black plates, function like a visual &ldquo;moment of silence.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The schools don&rsquo;t always have the time or space or means to create opportunities for grieving or processing these losses,&rdquo; said Pope. &ldquo;I wanted students to feel empowered by the way they react so we could have those conversations.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">But like Pate, Pope&rsquo;s exhibition also contains a provocation: The colors scheme she&rsquo;s used across the objects in her show are those of local gang The Latin Kings: gold, black and white. And she represents gang culture in other ways. &nbsp;In <em>Just Yell &lsquo;13: A Guidebook for Yellers</em>, pictures of both victims and gunmen are displayed in tidy, yearbook-like rows.</p><p dir="ltr">Pope said that in researching The Latin Kings, she found remarkable parallels between their &ldquo;philosophy&rdquo; (which is defined by their <a href="http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=latin%20kings">five-point crown</a>) and the ideals of school or team spirit, things like love or respect or community. In other words, gangs promise &ldquo;everything young people are asking for.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I wanted to be mindful and not glorify, but make visible that parallel, or that confused space, which can exist for young people,&rdquo; said Pope. &ldquo;Where gang affiliation can offer the satisfactions of being on the same team, or sharing a goal, or knowing someone has your back.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Despite their different styles, there are remarkable parallels between Pate and Pope.</p><p dir="ltr">Both use inflammatory imagery not just to provoke viewers but to reveal their own emotional connections to the issue of violence (a perspective which partly results from working closely with young people, Pate as an artist-in-residence at public schools, Pope at the <a href="http://jamesrjordan.bgcc.org/">James R. Jordan Boys and Girls Club</a> near the United Center).</p><p dir="ltr">Both are committed to a continuing exploration of violence: Pate has moved into color images and Pope&rsquo;s next project involves how people grieve for their communities.</p><p dir="ltr">But by forcing together supposedly disparate groups - draping gang members in Klan robes or decorating a school spirit stick in gang colors - each artist has created a different space to discuss violence.</p><p dir="ltr">Once you sort through that confusion of images, the space can come across as absence -- something painful and awful and empty. But it also contains potential, as a place from which it might be possible to do or say - or even yell - something new.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>&lsquo;Just Yell&rsquo; is at the moniquemeloche gallery through Aug. 3. On July 27, Pope has invited what she calls &ldquo;game players&rdquo; - those actually on the court rather than yelling from the sidelines - to the show, including aldermen, DCASE Commissioner Michelle Boone and Mayor Rahm Emanuel.</em></p><p dir="ltr"><em>Alison Cuddy is WBEZ&rsquo;s Arts and Culture reporter and co-host of <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/wbezs-changing-channels/id669715774?mt=2">Changing Channels,</a> a podcast about the future of television. Follow her on<a href="https://twitter.com/wbezacuddy"> Twitter</a>,<a href="https://www.facebook.com/cuddyalison?ref=tn_tnmn"> Facebook</a> and<a href="http://instagram.com/cuddyreport"> Instagram</a></em></p></p> Wed, 17 Jul 2013 08:54:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2013-07/artists-turn-volume-gun-violence-debate-108080 Harper High School kids meet the president: 'My whole body just got weak' http://www.wbez.org/news/harper-high-school-kids-meet-president-my-whole-body-just-got-weak-107599 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/harper-crop.jpg" title="Mayor Rahm Emanuel met with students Friday morning, just after they returned from their trip to the White House. (WBEZ/Linda Lutton)" /></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F95926861" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>A bus full of students and staff from Harper High School returned to Chicago Friday morning from a visit to the White House. They were invited by First Lady Michelle Obama and got to meet the President as well.</p><p>The First Lady took an interest in the students after <a href="http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/487/harper-high-school-part-one">This American Life</a> aired <a href="http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/488/harper-high-school-part-two">episodes </a>about how the school has been dealing with gun violence in the Englewood neighborhood. Mrs. Obama <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-04-11/news/chi-first-lady-michelle-obama-to-visit-harper-high-20130409_1_michelle-obama-first-lady-gun-violence">met with them in Chicago in April</a>, then invited the students to her house.</p><p>&nbsp;Many of the students who went on the trip were featured in WBEZ&rsquo;s <em>This American Life </em>episodes:</p><p>Deonte, the student who has avoided street violence by staying inside the house all the time; &nbsp;</p><p>Antoryio, who has been shot at so often he has a strategy--he drops to the ground;</p><p>Thomas, who&rsquo;s seen multiple friends and family members shot and killed, including <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/education/weight-citys-violence-one-school-principal-100699">Harper student Shakaki Asphy</a>, who was gunned down a year ago this month.</p><p>Ten Harper High staff members were also along on the 15-hour coach bus ride to D.C.</p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel stopped by the South Side school Friday morning, joining in on the national attention being paid to Harper kids.</p><p>Meeting the president was the highlight of the trip, one boy told Emanuel.</p><p>&ldquo;As soon as he said, &lsquo;Hey, Harper!&rsquo; my whole body just got weak!&rdquo; he recounted.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/harper2.jpg" style="float: right;" title="Senior Cameron Littlejohn got his school uniform autographed by First Lady Michelle Obama. (WBEZ/Linda Lutton)" />The students said they were given a &ldquo;deluxe tour,&rdquo; introduced to everybody, from secret service agents to the White House chef. In addition to meeting with the president for 45 minutes privately, they got a shout out from him at an event with the Baltimore Ravens football team.</p><p>Harper Principal Leonetta Sanders says she appreciates that the First Lady has turned more of her attention to the issue of urban gun violence in recent months, and has made an effort to get to know Harper students.</p><p>&ldquo;She wanted to really just have a deep conversation with them, one-on-one, and just really hear their stories. But also, at the same time, to encourage students to keep going,&rdquo; Sanders said.</p><p>Many kids came home on a first-name basis with the president and First Lady, referring simply to &ldquo;Barack&rdquo; and &ldquo;Michelle.&rdquo;</p><p>Junior Sandelio Wright, who&rsquo;s been shot at on his walk to school, &nbsp;said he was moved by the whole trip, especially a night visit to the Lincoln Memorial. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;I was standing at the exact same spot where Martin Luther King did his speech, seeing the view that he saw. And it was gorgeous. It was reflecting off the water. And just knowing that he was standing right there talking to a million people. It was beautiful. I got a picture in my phone.&rdquo;</p><p>The Harper students also visited Howard University, where they met a student from their neighborhood who&rsquo;s now a Rhodes scholar working on her PhD.</p><p>The trip was paid for through donations collected by Chuck Smith, a Chicago attorney at the Skadden law firm. Smith had heard This American Life&rsquo;s reporting on Harper and was asked by Mayor Emanuel to raise money for the trip.</p><p>Principal Sanders, who has an unshakably positive outlook, hopes things like this trip--and the attention to her school--might slowly change the violence that has sent her to funeral after funeral for slain teenagers.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s why we took a variety of students,&rdquo; said Sanders. &ldquo;We took <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/harper-high-boasts-two-gates-millennium-scholars-despite-school%E2%80%99s-struggle-violence-106785">Gates Scholars</a>, but at the same time we took some challenged students, who are in gangs and who are not on the right path. And what we hope to do is that we change those students to go another direction.&rdquo;</p><p>Sanders&rsquo; broader hope is that by changing students, they can change the neighborhood where those students are growing up.</p><p><em style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;">Linda Lutton is an education reporter at WBEZ. Follow her&nbsp;<a href="http://www.twitter.com/WBEZeducation" style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-size: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; line-height: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; text-decoration: none; color: rgb(0, 104, 150); outline: 0px;">@WBEZeducation</a></em></p></p> Fri, 07 Jun 2013 18:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/harper-high-school-kids-meet-president-my-whole-body-just-got-weak-107599 Illinois legislature passes concealed carry bill, awaits Quinn's signature http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-legislature-passes-concealed-carry-bill-awaits-quinns-signature-107417 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/RS4474_Springfield-scr.jpg" alt="" /><p><div>Illinois is one step closer to allowing its residents to carry concealed weapons, even though several state lawmakers who voted in favor of the proposal actually oppose the idea of concealed carry.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The State Senate approved a new concealed carry plan Friday by a vote of 45-12. The House approved it 89-28. It still needs the governor&#39;s approval.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>A December ruling from a federal court in Chicago ruled that Illinois&rsquo; ban on concealed carry is unconstitutional. It is the only state in the country to not allow its residents to carry a concealed gun.</div><p>The court ruling prompted months of debate over where guns should or should not be allowed, pitting representatives from Chicago against those from rural parts of the state. A bill approved by the senate on Friday would ban concealed guns in schools, large arenas and buses and trains.</p><p>It also would allow certain cities and counties around Illinois to keep their own gun regulations. Chicago, for instance, bans so-called assault weapons and shops that sell guns to civilians. A rival concealed carry bill had sought to wipe individual cities&rsquo; gun laws off the books, in favor of statewide regulations on guns. It passed the House of Representatives last week, but failed in a Senate committee earlier this week.</p><p>&ldquo;Understand what you&rsquo;re doing if you vote against this bill. Be very clear what you&rsquo;re doing. You&rsquo;re endorsing the risk of guns in schools being legal in non-home rule communities,&rdquo; said Republican State Sen. Matt Murphy. Several lawmakers thought that if no gun regulation was approved by a court-mandated June 9th deadline, then anybody could carry any gun anywhere.</p><p>&ldquo;I am not happy with the end result,&rdquo; said State Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago, who helped negotiate the bill. &ldquo;But my journey and my assignment was not to achieve my own personal happiness. My assignment was to negotiate a bill.&rdquo;</p><p>Those involved in negotiations had worried about various gun regulations around the state, pitting one city&rsquo;s gun regulations against the next. The bill approved by senators allows residents to transport their guns through the state, so long as it&rsquo;s packed appropriately.</p><p>The debate over concealed carry has pitted the National Rifle Association against the City of Chicago. Both are neutral on the bill.</p><p>Meantime, some Illinois lawmakers have also tried to ban ammunition magazines from holding more than 10 rounds across the entire state. Parents of children killed in December&rsquo;s mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., recently went to Springfield to testify in favor of the legislation. The measure failed in the Senate on Friday.</p><p><em>Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/tonyjarnold" target="_blank">@tonyjarnold</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 31 May 2013 12:48:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-legislature-passes-concealed-carry-bill-awaits-quinns-signature-107417 Fear and violence in Chicago: a female perspective http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-03/fear-and-violence-chicago-female-perspective-106078 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/safety.jpg" style="height: 349px; width: 620px; " title="As much as we don't like to admit it, women in Chicago have much to fear when traveling alone. (ActInSelfDefense)" /></p><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Out of all the&nbsp;<a href="http://homicides.redeyechicago.com" target="_blank">violent crimes</a>&nbsp;that take place in Chicago each year (including 506 homicides in 2012, the vast majority of them gun-related, and 62 in 2013 so far), tragedies involving young innocents like <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-02-12/news/chi-hadiya-pendleton-charges-20130211_1_area-central-police-headquarters-gang-members-rival-gang" target="_blank">Hadiya Pendleton</a> and <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/12/jonylah-watkins-dies-6-mo_n_2859436.html" target="_blank">Jonylah Watkins</a> are always the ones that affect us the most.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">We see their smiling faces--so alive and so full of promise--and our hearts break, as we imagine our daughters, our grandaughters and even ourselves at that age. Then, we shudder with the horrible realization: that could have been my daughter, my grandaughter. That could have been me.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">As a young woman living in Chicago for the past several years, first in the South Loop and now on the edge of Logan Square and Avondale, I have grown somewhat desensitized to the epidemic of violence that I see as <a href="http://homicides.redeyechicago.com" target="_blank">little red dots</a> in my morning paper. I often venture to &quot;sketchy&quot; neighborhoods to cover a story, and I usually don&#39;t think twice about walking home by myself at 2 a.m. However, when I hear about a shooting just a couple of blocks from my apartment, or listen to a friend tell her story of getting mugged at bus stop just steps from my front door, I wonder if this bubble of safety that I&#39;ve created for myself is really just an <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/chicago-struggles-combat-gun-violence-article-1.1271786" target="_blank">illusion</a>.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The mentality of &quot;it could never happen to me, because I don&#39;t live in x neighborhood and I don&#39;t know anyone in a gang&quot; is the easiest way to distance oneself from the crimes happening on a daily basis here in Chicago (and in <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/26/most-dangerous-cities-for-women_n_1456729.html" target="_blank">most cities</a> across the United States, for that matter). Still, does this &quot;blinders-on&quot; approach really help us in the long run, or does it just keep us more segregated from each other and ultimately less safe as a whole?&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Obviously, living in fear and paranoia doesn&#39;t help either; but to go the opposite route and refuse to educate oneself on the possible dangers of city life is just as detrimental, if not more so. Women in particular need to remain on constant alert, no matter how &quot;safe&quot; they may feel in a given neighborhood. Also, knowledge of basic self-defense is paramount, because let&#39;s face it: nobody thinks that they&#39;ll be a victim of a crime--whether it be an <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/technology/2012/09/iphone-thefts-apple-picking-on-the-rise/" target="_blank">iPhone theft</a>&nbsp;on the El&nbsp;or a <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-06-06/news/ct-met-mob-attacks-20110606_1_mob-attacks-downtown-japanese-doctor" target="_blank">random shooting</a>&nbsp;right outside their home or workplace- until it happens to them.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">And even if you think that you don&#39;t really <em>need&nbsp;</em>to take a self-defense class or keep a can of pepper spray in your purse at all times,&nbsp;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_and_crime" target="_blank">statistics prove</a> that being a woman automatically puts a target on your back. Of course, women are&nbsp;<a href="http://www.trutv.com/library/crime/notorious_murders/women/women_killers2/3.html" target="_blank">just as capable</a> of violent behavior as their male counterparts (<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infanticide" target="_blank">infanticide</a> being a prime example),&nbsp;but the unfortunate truth remains that men are <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_and_violence#Gender_and_violence" target="_blank">10 times</a>&nbsp;more&nbsp;likely than women to commit murder, and a woman walking alone at night has <em>much</em> more to fear than an innocent man in the same position.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">So, what can we do to empower ourselves as women and avoid becoming victims?</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">- Learn basic <a href="http://www.chicagoloopster.com/2011/07/22/fight-like-a-chicagoan-self-defense-for-the-streets-of-chicago/" target="_blank">self-defense</a>. A physical and/or sexual assault can often be thwarted by the simplest of maneuvers: a hard&nbsp;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strike_(attack)#Palm_Strike" target="_blank">palm strike</a> to the nose, a swift <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groin_attack">kick</a> to the groin or a strong blast of pepper spray to temporarily blind your attacker and give you a chance to escape.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">- Travel with a friend or in a group whenever possible, especially when navigating the city at night. If you are walking alone, make sure to stay in well-lit areas with lots of other people around.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">- If you think someone is following you, switch directions or cross to the other side of the street. If the person continues to follow you, move quickly toward an open store, restaurant or house with lights on. Don&#39;t be afraid to yell for help, although &quot;Fire!&quot; is usually the best way to get people&#39;s attention.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">- Resist taking your phone out while walking down the street or riding on the bus or train. Keep all valuables safely tucked away and out of reach.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">- Always be aware of your surroundings. Look up, walk &quot;with a purpose&quot; and avoid wearing headphones that will drown out what&#39;s happening around you.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">- If someone does try to rob you, don&#39;t resist. Give up your belongings immediately (purse, wallet, etc.) and the mugger will be less likely to hurt you in the process. Credit cards can be cancelled and iPhones replaced, but your life is invaluable.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><em>Leah writes about popular culture for WBEZ. Follow her on Twitter at <a href="https://twitter.com/leahkpickett" target="_blank">@leahkpickett</a>.</em></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div></p> Fri, 15 Mar 2013 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-03/fear-and-violence-chicago-female-perspective-106078