Chicago’s homicide epidemic is a youth homicide epidemic

Chicago’s homicide epidemic is a youth homicide epidemic
Parents who lost children to gun violence gather at Chicago police headquarters to demand that Chicago police detectives solve their cases. Gregory Robinson's family and loved ones hold a banner in his memory. In 2009, Gregory was in a car with several family members when someone fired a gun into the car. The 14-year-old tried to protect the younger children in the car and was killed. He was a basketball player at Simeon high school in Chicago. Photo by Carlos Javier Ortiz.

Last week, Hayida Pendleton was performing at President Obama's inauguration festivities. Today, the body of the 15 year-old girl is in the Cook County morgue.

She died yesterday of a gunshot wound to the back, hit by a gunman who opened fire on a crowd of teens gathered under a tent after school, trying to avoid the pouring rain.

The story is tragic. The stories about Pendleton and the pictures her family shared are heartbreaking.

Her death is one single tragedy, but it's part of a larger story about gun violence in Chicago. Young people are the No. 1 target when it comes to the city's sky-high homicide rate.

From 2008 through 2012, nearly half of Chicago’s 2,389 homicide victims were killed before their 25th birthday. That statistic is from our new story in our ongoing series, Too Young To Die, which includes documentary photos from photographer Carlos Javier Ortiz. Ortiz has spent six years documenting Chicago's homicide epidemic, and his photos are gripping.

For part of the project, we created a map of every homicide within the city of people under 25 between 2008 and 2012. Each dot is one person, and by clicking on it, you can see where and when they died, their name, race, age and gender.

Hayida Pendleton's death is a serious loss. The same goes for the 1,118 young people who were killed over the last five years.

We know these kids are too young to die. The question is: What are we doing about it?


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  • Sorry Megan, we don't have a gun violence problem; we have a black violence problem. And we've had it for decades. Let's not beat around the bush. Thank 60s liberalism and the destruction of the family unit for that one. Doesn't matter how much money you pour into it. Until they do a 360 on their culture, it'll never end. At this point, nothing short of a police state intervention will resolve this; that's how bad it's gotten.

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    In reply to Chenjesu:

    I basically agree with your point, except that when someone "does a 360" they end up back where they started. You probably mean "a 180."

  • At the expense of CHILDREN, the chicago police department allows corruption with gang affiliation to continue, while the lutienant lays comfortably in bed at night. Going straight to hell. It's not that hard to put officers to work if they do their job guarding every block, oh wait......that's were a tenth of their measly sallary comes from--the gang payoff...worth the childrens' lives apparantly!!! total shame. makes me sick!! If I was anywhere near one of Chicago's dumphole, I don't care wat it takes I would take my children and LEAVE. Pleanty of cheaper places anyway! Go to Idaho for God's sake, anywhere but a kid killing, Gang protecting, Corrupt piece of crap-for-a-town place like this nonsense. I just left California, and guest what the first topic of a stranger decided to speak of--Chicago's Murder Rate! PATHETIC. Obama-your forgotten city's school system could use your vacation money from Hawaii.

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