It seems as if the “Once Upon A Time In Chicago” era is still underway. Yasmin Miller was driving back home from a laundromat in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood, when a gunman in another car showered bullets on her red Hyundai sedan — shooting her son, Sincere Gatson, in the process. Sincere was shot in the chest — he died immediately, and he was only 20 months old!
On July 20, a shooting incident on Chicago’s far south side left two men dead and three others wounded. One of them was severely injured, said the police officers present on the scene.
Another shooting incident took place in the Morgan Park neighborhood late Sunday. A group of people were gathered on the street when someone opened fire on them.
One of them was 26-year-old Devonte Merrill, a resident of Country Club Hills, who was shot multiple times and pronounced dead at the hospital.
Another man was shot in the back of the head and taken to a hospital in critical condition. Sadly, at 41 years old, he was also pronounced dead.
One other man, aged 26, was shot in the back of the head and was taken to the hospital.
Two men, ages 37 and 38, were also shot.
This series of shooting incidents is horrifying. To make matters worse, they just don’t seem to be ending!
Another gruesome shooting incident took place last month on June 20. A man had opened fire through the back of a dark blue SUV, wounding the 27-year-old man driving the car and hitting his stepson, Mekhi James, who was only 3.
“The Windy City is becoming the Bloody City,” said Rev. Michael L. Pfleger of Saint Sabina Church, calling it the worst period in the 45 years he has worked on social issues. “I have never seen the despair, hopelessness and anger all mixed together at the level it is right now.”
All these incidents of sheer violence occur amid the boiling nationwide debate about policing — following George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis at the hands of the police. Those who defend the police believe that they need more support as the number of violent crimes in Chicago surges upward. People who live in high-crime areas always need effective policing. The critics say that this violence shows how miserably the police are disappointing the public, and how strongly the residents distrust the police.
An alarming fact is that at least 336 people have been shot in Chicago this year alone up until July 2.
Chicago had 658 murders in 2017, 567 in 2018, and 492 in 2019, according to Chicago police records.
Just ahead of the July 4 weekend, Mayor Lori Lightfood addressed all the young men who she said was responsible for the majority of the shootings. “Think about the number of children that have been killed just in the last two weeks,” she said at a news conference. “Families that will not recover from this hardship. Mothers’ hearts that are broken, fathers’ hearts that are destroyed, grandparents who are living in mourning.”
No wonder the pandemic has added significant stress on communities that have already been suffering from the most violent incidents. The financially-struggling neighborhoods like Englewood also show a high number of COVID-19 infections and deaths. Overall, there have been 53,375 known coronavirus cases in Chicago and at least 2,631 deaths, according to statistics from the state.
“That is the tragedy,” Father Pfleger said. “The bad situation in this city got even worse with the pandemic. It exposed the reality that Black and brown communities are disproportionately affected.”
“Because this is not one crisis, this is two crises operating at the same time, this could in fact be worse than what we saw in 2016,” said Thomas Abt, senior fellow at the Council on Criminal Justice and author of the nationwide homicide study by Arnold Ventures, a philanthropy focused on criminal justice.
Kimberly M. Foxx, the prosecutor for Cook County, has been fulfilling the duty of a very strong advocate to the increasing crime rate — by reducing prison population through measures such as releasing prisoners without bail, erasing marijuana convictions, and not prosecuting low-level crimes such as shoplifting.