|Chaos in the Windy City might have been a 1994 video game, but the black community has been creating chaos in Chicago since the "Great Migration" began in the 1920s...|
In November 1984, Benji Wilson, a prominent black high school basketball star, was killed in a senseless act of youth violence. Through the spotlight of media attention came a hue and cry from the community for the city to “do something about the issue.” The problems of youth gangs and delinquent behavior have exited in Chicago for generations. Trying to draw attention to these problems in a comprehensive orderly fashion had proved futile. (p. 160)
One year after the city began the much-publicized $4.9 million Chicago Intervention Network (CIN) to combat gang violence, gang attacks in the city(shootings, knifings and beatings) are up 18 percent over the same period last year. There were 504 gang-related attacks from Jan. 1 through July 1 this year, compared with 459 in the same period last year.
When Kimberly Common visited her mother in the hospital Monday, the two spoke of how much they missed Common's son, Antonio, who was slain 15 months ago at the age of 23.
By Tuesday afternoon, the family's tragedy deepened as Common's older son, Devin, 27, was fatally shot near their home in the Park Manor neighborhood a little past noon. As she stood on a sidewalk by her son's sheet-covered body, Common recalled his last words to her:
"I'll be back. I'm going to the store."
"That's the same thing" Antonio said before he was killed in October 2011, the mother of two other children said as tears streamed down her face.
A little more than two hours later, a 15-year-old girl had also been shot to death, bringing to 42 the number of homicides so far in 2013, making this month the most violent January in Chicago since 2002.
The bloody start to the new year comes as the Police Department hoped it had begun to turn the corner after a violent 2012 that saw homicides exceed 500, bringing unflattering national attention to Chicago.
By Tuesday evening, three people had been slain — all in broad daylight — on a day in which temperatures soared to 63, a record for Jan. 29.
In addition to Devin Common, a 20-year-old man was shot in the head in the East Side neighborhood at about 8 a.m.; the 15-year-old girl was shot at about 2:30 p.m. a few blocks from King College Prep after finishing classes at the North Kenwood high school.
For Devin Common's mother, the loss of her second son was almost too much to bear. Police said Common was on his way to buy coffee when he was shot Tuesday near East 75th Street and South Champlain Avenue.
Standing by his body at the crime scene, Common's sister, Jermaka, 26, cried softly as friends and neighbors embraced her and her mother.
"This didn't make no sense for him to get gunned down like that," she said.
"This is not fair at all."
No one understands the impact of the gun violence plaguing the city of Chicago better than a local woman who has lost all four of her children in fatal shootings.
“Four, no more. They took all of my babies to gun violence,” said Shirley Chambers. “I don’t understand it.”
Her son Ronnie Chambers, 34, was fatally shot in the head early Saturday while sitting in a van in the 1100 block of S. Mozart Street on Chicago’s west side. She lost her son Carlos, 18, in 1995. She lost her daughter LaToya, 15, in 2000, and her son Jerome, 23, was shot and killed a few months later.
This weekend, I saw an ABC-7 Chicago news report about Shirley Chambers, an African American woman who lives on Chicago's Near North Side, near the site of the now-leveled Cabrini-Green housing project. She, like many African American mothers in Chicago, recently lost her son to gun violence.
Shirley Chambers' son, Ronnie, who was killed Saturday, was the fourth child she lost to gun violence. She was the mother to Carlos, LaToya, Jerome, and Ronnie Chambers. They are all gone.
Carlos was killed in 1995 by another young man with whom he'd had an argument.LaToya was killed in April of 2000 by a 13-year-old boy who was arguing with her boyfriend.
Jerome was killed in July of 2000 when he was shot from someone in van while standing at a payphone.
Ronnie was killed this weekend when someone opened fire on a van in which he was a passenger.
They are all gone.
The Chambers family should be national news. We should also be listening to Shirley Chambers when she says, "We need tougher gun laws," and when she cries, "I can't take it anymore."
I can't take it anymore.
LaToya was killed at age 15 in the lobby of a Cabrini-Green high-rise April 26, 2000, during an argument between her boyfriend and a 13-year-old boy, who was later convicted.
Her brothers Carlos and Jerome also were gunshot victims.
Carlos, then 18, was shot and killed just after Thanksgiving 1995 at the corner of Jackson Boulevard and State Street, apparently by a boy with whom he'd had an argument.
Jerome was shot and killed at age 23 on July 26, 2000. He had reportedly been standing at a pay phone in the 400 block of West Chicago Avenue when a maroon van pulled up and its occupant opened fire.
According to a 2000 Tribune story, Ronnie Chambers had tattoos on his forearms to remind him of his dead siblings: a crucifix with a ribbon draped across it commemorated Carlos, a tombstone with a crucifix was for Jerome and another tombstone with a cross honored LaToya.
After his death Saturday, Smith called Ronnie Chambers "my everything. I lost a part of me. ... Nothing that anyone can say can make me feel better."
In a December appearance on the "The Ricki Lake Show," Chambers identified himself as a former gang member who was trying to help others stay away from that kind of life.
Police said he'd been arrested 29 times and had four felony convictions. Records show his most recent conviction was in 2005 for receiving, possessing or selling a stolen motor vehicle. He was sentenced to three years in the Illinois Department of Corrections, records show.
Chambers, whose nickname was "Scooby," had been "trying to change his life," Smith said.
He worked in the music business, and had returned from an event for YK, an aspiring rapper he was trying to help, when the shooting occurred, Smith said.
“She is what is best in our city. A child going to school, who takes a final exam, who had just been to the inaugural,” Emanuel said. “You look at her, you look at how she talked about her future. She took her final exams. She had dreams. And this gang-banger, this punk took that away from Cleopatra [her mother]. They took it away from Hadiya. And in my view, they took it away from the city of Chicago.”