Just over this last weekend, a wave of gun violence in Chicago left 40 people shot and four dead. This marks the second weekend this month when gun violence injured scores of people and left many dead. Dubbed “Chiraq,” the city of Chicago is holding on to its title of America’s most dangerous city.
As of last Monday, the city recorded 1,254 shooting victims this year, which is already more than the whole of what occurred in 2013. Shortly before then, the Fourth of July weekend saw the deadliest weekend in this year when 53 people were shot and 17 people died from gun and gang violence.
There are echoes of the gang violence that was so widespread in Los Angeles in the late-80s and early-90s, with the murder rate in Los Angeles exceeding 2,500 in 1992. Granted, that number of murders makes today’s rates in Chicago seem reasonable, but Los Angeles was the wakeup call for the anti-gang violence movement in America.
As of 2013, the murder rate in Los Angeles was a miniscule, by comparison, 255, just over half of what Chicago recorded in the same year. Los Angeles has a population of about 4 million people, while Chicago’s population is roughly 2.7 million.
What happened in Los Angeles, and is currently happening in Chicago, transcends gun laws and “bad guy” gang violence. The causes of both are similar. They are rooted in racial alienation and economic disparity. As is the case with both cities, the most violent areas featured severe poverty and extreme racial segregation.
Residents of a Chicago low-income housing project were displaced after the city ordered the destruction of the Robert Taylor Homes, the country’s largest public housing project, in the late-90s. Thousands were run off from their homes and only 25 percent of the rebuilt houses were set aside for public housing residents.
The disenfranchised became even more disenfranchised and the frustrations amounted to the increase of gun violence as the displacement forced some gang members to relocate to parts of the city ran by rival gangs.
Like what happened in Los Angeles, the city and the people of the community need to work together in order to curb the deadly gang violence that is infecting the city, as harder police intervention will further create a divide between the city and the people of Chicago’s low-income sections.