Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Bloody Weekend

I don't have an exact count, but from reading the news, it appears there were about 40 shootings in Chicago this past weekend. The shootings stopped on Sunday morning when the storms set in over the city and dumped rain down most of the day. However on Sunday night, as the skies cleared, the shootings began again.

Even women were getting shot. At least one person was shot inside his own home by burglars. One young man was shot several times in the face. Several were shot in the chest.  

At least 6 people died as a result of these shootings.

The shootings were not isolated in one area either. Most of the shootings happened in the low income neighborhoods spanning from due South, to Southwest, to finally the West side. Shootings are nothing new or uncommon in those areas.

As I sat at home on the North side of the city, I felt so far removed from what I was reading about. It was hard to believe I live in the same city. At no time was I fearful to go outside. 

Though the news made it seem like parts of our city looked like Beirut, I felt safe. I went to a wedding on Saturday night. No one I spoke to mentioned the weekend violence. This could be for a couple of reasons. Either no one else knew or it's not the type of thing to discuss at weddings. I don't go to many weddings, so I honestly don't know.

But everyone that night was carrying on like nothing bad was happening only a few short miles away. And really, I didn't give it much thought. I was enjoying a nice piece of meat for dinner and the open bar.

The Cubs were home this weekend hosting St. Louis. There is a police station a couple of blocks from Wrigley Field. Imagine the difference in police work between dealing with drunken baseball fans and chasing down drive-by shooting, gangsters in Chatham or Roseland.

This city has a sad dichotomy. On one hand it's extremely beautiful. A run along Lake Michigan on a sunny morning is a sight to behold. The lake has a majestic quality about her that I have never experienced before. There is also a lot of history here. Many old buildings in the loop give Chicago its character. City Hall comes to mind. Or the Board of Trade. Or the Opera House. Or the old Post Office. There is some stunning architecture downtown.

But on the other hand, Chicago can be the most violent city in the country. The city continues to have a tremendous street gang problem. Heroin is still the street drug of choice. Pistols can be readily had for $50. Many locals don't trust the cops. The low income areas seem to just get poorer and poorer. The city schools have issues.

And on a beautiful holiday weekend in 2010, when President Obama was supposed to be relaxing at his Chicago home, we had 40 shootings.

Did the President know?

When I took speech in college my professor told us that most people disregard bad news subconsciously. NIMBY. Not in my backyard. I was taught that to move an audience you have to put the issue in their backyard.

Let some of this street violence make its way up North. When these shootings start happening in Lakeview backyards I can guarantee something would be done to stop it. Some local politicians called last month for the National Guard to be brought into our violent neighborhoods.

I am not sure I am there yet. But I get it. I really do.

I don't physically have a backyard. But when people start getting shot on corners around where I live, I might have to move. I doubt the violence will spread this far North. Why? Drugs are not sold on corners around here. It's really that simple. The question is: why?

I am not naive enough to think no one on the North side uses drugs. Last Sunday I saw a very strung out young woman nodding off near a park where little kids were playing. I asked her if she was ok. "I am just really tired" I was told. Heroin tends to make you tired.

But I doubt that we have as many regular drug users up around me. You have to earn money to live up here. In other words, one has to have a job. A healthy heroin addiction isn't conducive to corporate survival. Smoking crack-cocaine for lunch isn't a safe beat for obtaining job security.

However, I blame the gangs for the violence. Millions of dollars are made selling drugs in Chicago. The gangs control the drug trade. The gangs carry guns. Gangs settle disputes with bullets.

And the cycle just continues. As long as there is cash to be made from selling drugs, the violence will never go away.


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