In Wake of National, Local Gun Violence, Chicago Residents Speak Out
With the national spotlight on a pair of mass shootings in Texas and Ohio, Chicago residents on Monday struggled with their own violent weekend and sought to direct attention to the unique issues driving shootings on the city’s West and South sides.
Seven people were killed and more than 50 wounded in shootings in Chicago over the weekend, according to police. Through July 28, more than 280 people had been murdered this year in Chicago, according to police data. About three-quarters of those murders occurred in South and West side areas.
On Monday, Chicago residents and anti-violence activists gathered outside of Mount Sinai Hospital, which was forced to stop accepting new emergency room patients for two hours on Sunday after multiple gunshot victims were brought to the West Side hospital.
Princess Shaw said she is a third-generation resident of North Lawndale, one of the neighborhoods hit hardest by the weekend’s gun violence.
“I have witnessed firsthand the senseless gun violence that is plaguing Lawndale,” said Shaw, as she stood outside of Mt. Sinai hospital holding her infant daughter, Amara. “We need to be sure that we are addressing and identifying all of the contributing factors that are helping to fuel and feed the gun violence epidemic.”
That includes poverty, racism and a lack of jobs on the South and West sides in Chicago, Shaw said.
The violence in Chicago came as the country was shaken by two different mass shootings that left more than 30 dead and dozens more wounded. The shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio renewed familiar calls for gun control and improved mental health care.
Camiella Williams from the group Live Free Chicago said they have met with national gun control groups, but she feels the needs of black victims of gun violence are too often overlooked.
“I’m tired of being asked ‘What’s the solution,’ and when we tell you the solution, we are pushed away from the table,” Williams said.
Williams said she has lost 30 friends and loved ones to Chicago gun violence in her life. And she described driving past a car on Friday with its windows shot out.
“That is not normal for us in Chicago,” Williams said. “We shouldn’t have to live traumatized like this.”
Paris “Tree” Brown, with the youth-led activist group GoodKids, MadCity, is a gun violence survivor. He was paralyzed by a gunshot seven years ago.
“I was shot on a weekend, and that weekend was similar to this one,” Brown said. “During the weekend I was shot, there wasn’t any nationwide media coverage or an outcry. Me and the people that died were just another statistic, and the call to action was more police. That is an ineffective tactic, and further criminalizing the black and brown communities will not end the gun violence.”
The solution, Brown said, was more economic investment, more restorative justice and better mental health care to help people coping with trauma.
Patrick Smith is a reporter on WBEZ’s Criminal Justice desk. Follow him @pksmid.