What’s unique about Chicago

I usually don’t do this but I feel the need to address an issue I’ve been hearing in the news lately. I won’t pretend that this blog post will even scratch the surface about violent crimes in Chicago but I’ll try.

I must admit, one of the things I love so much about living in Charlotte is living is a pretty safe community. Outside of a recent rash of violent crimes, we have been able to decrease our violent crime rate year after year.

Among recent shootings including Jonathan Ferrell, an unarmed man shot to death by polic officers after running to them for help (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/17/us/asking-for-help-then-killed-by-an-officers-barrage.html?partner=rss&_r=1& )

 A young Durham man killed in a Polic Standoff –http://www.wral.com/man-killed-in-durham-police-standoff-snapped-close-friend-says/12899940/

and the DC Naval Yard shooting http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57603806/how-can-red-flags-be-missed-like-navy-shooters/

I heard about this morning, the shooting of 13, yes 13 innocent people including a 3 year old in the Back of the Yards neighborhood in in Chicago. Chicago has been on the radar for violent crimes and recently surpassed New York as the murder capital of America The fact remains that 13 people were shot in Cornell Square Park in the Back of the Yards Neighborhood on the Southside of Chicago.

What stands out to me about Chicago is that these crimes take place in neighborhoods, basketball courts, in backyards and bus stops. These are the most difficult to escape.

How can a person feel protected at night in their own home? This got me thinking about urban growth trends. It got me thinking about Elijah Anderson, Jane Jacobs and Cornel West (particularly his chapter in Race Matters on Black NIhilism) who all spoke to Chicago’s predicament in the past. It seems as though a cycle  of gentrification is not making a turn for the better but for the worst. Allow me to explain how gentrification and growth can change a neighborhood’s character to increase activities such as violence. 

New City Chicago, Back of the Yards, Canaryville. These places have names and identities.  Chicago probably peaked in the 1960s and once the Industrial Revolution was over and large manufacturing firms left the area, a new group of people moved in, things began to change. Back of the Yard was a mostly Chicano population in the 1970s. This area is known for its history of racial tension. The meatpacking district, a viable industry ended for this area a long time ago. So what you have is people living here with no purpose or connection to the area. What you have is people struggling to make a community work. 

The most important question is how to we address the violence? If the violence initiated in the neighborhood, that’s where the solution should be focused. Not necessarily on gun control but rather on gang relations, family structure and gentrification. I am going to propose that the stage in a city’s growth has much to do with it’s crime rate. Helping to boost the area’s job growth, helping to deal with hunger issues and gang prevention, getting children back into school will all help to turn around the area’s crime rate. 

Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” was based off of this neighborhood in Chicago. Racial tension, economic decline and extreme poverty were themes in the book but the media overlooks this connection. 

This article actually does a great job of articualting what I’m trying to say as well: http://www.chicagoistheworld.org/notalone/2013/08/chicago-is-not-the-most-violent-city/ 

I am praying for all of the families who suffered losses in the tragedies mentioned above.

Thanks for listening to my impromptu rant. 

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