To quote the Chicago gun violence statistics website, Hey Jackass!:
Reminder, this is the first year since 2013 where we’ll have an extra day of stupid to run up the score and it ended up being a “hold my beer and watch this” sort of extended weekend.
Final Shoot-o-Rahm-a Tally: 15 killed, 88 wounded
2016 weekend tally: 6 killed, 62 wounded
2015 weekend tally: 11 killed, 55 wounded
2014 weekend tally: 16 killed, 66 wounded
2013 weekend tally: 15 killed, 63 wounded*
Over the holiday weekend, I found myself frequently uttering 3 simple words:
“I can’t imagine”
I noticed over the weekend, the increasing frequency of people criticizing the revelry of their neighbors as rockets glared, and faux bombs bursted in air…citing the cause of their dismay ranging from horrified pets, to veterans and their ever evasive PTSD, lack of sleep, woken babies…
…we’ve all heard it before. For a city in which Most Fireworks Are Illegal, there was a lot of deep sustained booms, and sparkly clusters all over the city.
However, let’s take a step back and think about one small thing: All of these things occur year round in Chicago. Perhaps, they simply don’t happen in your community.
There are communities in this city, however, that endure this type of activity 12 months a year. While we joke online about the Chicago game of “Firework or Gunshot”, but in some communities, each pop brings that perilous question, each pop brings worry of another friend, or relative lost. As I said many times this weekend, I can’t imagine.
The communities most plagued by gun violence have all the same attributes which I saw many others complain about; pets, babies, veterans, PTSD (of veterans and community members alike)…but every passing day, it becomes very apparent that a majority of the city, yes, I said a majority, don’t really care about that, because it isn’t directly affecting them. I suppose that is in some way human nature, but there needs to come a point, as Chicagoans, that we have to figure out that we’re all in this together, and the plight of one can easily become the plight of many, as we have seen the gun violence expand out from the “usual suspect” communities, and into the more affluent and “hip” neighborhoods of the city. How many shootings did Wicker Park have last year? Off the top of my head, I can recall 3.
The point is this: We still haven’t adopted an all hands on deck mentality to the issues of this city. Gun violence is the crown jewel of issues, but it is a result in and of itself, not a cause. But it needs to be discussed and dealt with by more people than are currently engaging in the issue.
It seems fitting after a 4-day weekend in which over 100 people were shot in one city, that the Australian version of ’60 Minutes’ should do an expose on the gun violence in Chicago, with the host being left in disbelief at the rampant gun violence, which can occur for the most benign reasons.
News Flash: If you only care about the noise of simulated gunfire when it inconveniences you, but not about the sound of real gunfire that keeps up school children year round, that speaks volumes about you as a person.
Now, I’m in no place to judge. I’m sure that I purchased at least one thing over the last week that was crafted by the overworked and underpaid indigenous people of wherever, but this is our home, and we have to take care of ourselves AND our neighbors. Now, as you read this, you may not think that Englewood, Austin, or Garfield Park are your neighbors, but you all live in the same city, and yes, they are your neighbors, and yes, their struggles will impact you, whether it’s in the $2.5 Billion dollars the city spends a year on gun violence, or the youth, attending underfunded and undermanned schools, will eventually come to a time and place where they are looking to make money, and lacking essential basic skills, will score a gun and “go on over to that neighborhood where all the money at” to make a quick score.
We’re all in this together. I wish we’d simply start acting like it. I’m lucky; I live 5 blocks outside the city limits. On my block, I knew all the booms and pops were just that, entertainment. However, I know a few miles away, in Roseland, the conclusion as to what that last pop was isn’t so certain, and that concerns me, and matters to me, and even though I haven’t lived in Roseland for many years, I still work to help make it a better place, because it’s my home, but it’s also a part of the city that I absolutely love and adore.
We can do better, but it will take more voices calling for real solutions to make our dreams reality. When will Chicago finally stand up?
If Chicago was ticketing all these people popping off fireworks the same way they do my car, we’d be able to hire more counselors and therapists for the schools, open up some mental health facilities, offer some small business loans, and really start to handle the cities problems. Just a thought.
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