Roy Exum: ‘Groundhog Day’ In Chicago

Wednesday, July 9, 2014
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

Here’s a bang-up Fourth of July statistic for you – between 3:30 p.m. last Thursday and 3:30 a.m. this Monday there were 82 people shot in Chicago and 14 of those were killed. That may be the most incomprehensible portrait of America I believe I have ever seen. After all, Chicago is believed to have the most restrictive gun laws in the country.  And while the mayor says it is “unacceptable” and that “we still have work to do,” almost the exact same thing happened in Chicago this time last year.

According to the second paragraph in the Chicago Tribune earlier this week, “The victims ranged from a 14-year-old boy shot by police in the Ole Irving Park neighborhood (South Side) to a 66-year-old woman grazed in the head as she walked up the steps of her porch on the Far South Side. Most victims were in their late teens and 20s.”

There is one more similarity about shooters and their victims; nearly every one of them was black. The 14-year-old who got shot? He was shooting at the police, just like four others that were shot by police on the most horrific 4th of July on record. Last year there were 75 shot and 12 killed but even as bullet-wary police stepped up patrols in troubled areas that have struggled with poverty for half a century, 21 separate shootings on Sunday alone “really blew it up for us in our strategy,” said police superintendent Garry McCarthy.

“It’s Groundhog Day here in Chicago again,” he fretted, the day a strong shadow of the year before. “It all comes down to these guns; there’s too many guns coming in and too little punishment going out.”

McCarthy, a former lawman in New York City and Newark, N.J., has never seen anything like it. “Everybody asks me what the difference is between New York and Chicago and I can tell you quite simply - proliferation of firearms. Possession of a loaded firearm is not even considered a violent felony in the state of Illinois,” he told reporters.

“There has to come a tipping point where this changes," he said Monday. "The illogical nature of what's happening here -- that government can intercede and prevent this from happening is overwhelming. And I refuse to think otherwise in a great country like America that we can continue to allow this to happen -- not just on a state, but on a federal level."

Another starling fact: in New York and most other big cities the gang members will throw away the guns as they are being chased but, in Chicago, where police confiscated over 3,200 guns during the first half of the year, they shoot back instead. The top cop says that is because “there is a greater sanction for the gang members to lose that firearm from their gang than there is to go to jail.”

In Chicago a gang member will fire back instead of discard his weapon because members face “severe beatings” and financial punishment if they lose their gun. “There are way too many guns. On any given weekend, our police officers take more guns off the streets than either New York or LA. It’s too easy for anybody to get a gun.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is calling out for Chicago citizens to “build a sense of community”, better policing, better education and stronger gun laws. “Whoever you are, wherever you live, the gun violence that was part of this weekend must stop.”

Last year the number of homicides dropped in Chicago to 415, after surpassing 500 in 2012, but that was still the high-water mark for the United States. In New York, where 12 were shot and three were killed in one five-hour span on Saturday, there were 350 homicides last year while Los Angeles had 255. Last weekend seven people were shot in Indianapolis and six were shot at a music festival in Houston.

And what is stunning is that both shooters and victims are consistently a large majority of young black males. According to Department of Justice records, firearms deaths for blacks in 2010 were 14.6 per 100,000 people. For Hispanics it was about 4.0 per 100,000 and for whites it was 1.9 per 100,000. Another point -- In Toronto, a city of approximately 3 million, there were 50 homicides last year but Chicago (pop. 2.7 million) was almost 10 times that. Then again, the black population in the Canadian city is 8 percent with few gangs while Chicago is 33 percent black with a prolific gang culture.

The most glaring thing about the Chicago shootings? You probably haven’t heard about it. It wasn’t an elementary school or a movie theater where this massacre took place. No, just our third-largest city. On Independence Day weekend 82 Americans were shot in Chicago and, to think, we just barely noticed.

royexum@aol.com



Forgetting Our Presidents' Birthdays

Surely I'm not the only one who noticed today's date this morning and immediately thought, "Hey, it's Abraham Lincoln's birthday!"  Honest Abe was born 207 years ago today--as was Charles Darwin.  When I was a kid in school, Feb. 12 was an annual and much anticipated holiday, Abraham Lincoln's birthday, a no-school day, and we certainly knew and understood who it was ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: About Lions & Elephants

A family of lions is called a ‘pride’ and rightfully so. The boss of the pride is indeed the ‘King of the Jungle’ and he makes all the big decisions, like when they go hunting, who is going to be ‘boyfriend-girlfriend’ and is quick to settle any family quarrels. But, as with all in nature, there comes a day when the King gets too old to rule. His teeth are loose, his gait hampered ... (click for more)

Wintry Mix Possible For Chattanooga Area

A wintry mix is possible for the Chattanooga area beginning Sunday. However, there could be little or no snow and ice unless temperatures dip. Here is the latest forecast from the National Weather Service: MIXED WINTRY PRECIPITATION EXPECTED SUNDAY NIGHT AND MONDAY MORNING... A MIX OF RAIN AND SNOW IS EXPECTED TO BEGIN FALLING ACROSS THE SOUTHERN CUMBERLAND PLATEAU...THE ... (click for more)

Man At Homeless Camp On Chestnut Street Charged With Trying To Set Fire To Another Man

A man at a homeless camp on Chestnut Street has been charged with trying to set fire to another man at the camp. Richard Warren "Trey" Erwin, 40, is charged with aggravated arson. Police were called to the 2200 block of Chestnut at 12:40 a.m. Earlier, Michael Nye and Alisa Buckels had called for an ambulance. They were checked out at Erlanger Hospital for inhalation injuries. ... (click for more)

Red Bank Rolls To Region 2-A/AA Mat Title With Ease

Shane Turner has been waiting a long time for this year's wrestling season to get here. He took over the head coaching job at Red Bank four years ago and his Lions have taken their share of whippings during that time. Turner kept preaching to his kids to stay faithful to the program and to keep working hard and that eventually, good things would come their way. They're ... (click for more)

Bradley Wrestlers Win Region 4-AAA With 7 Champions

CLEVELAND, Tenn. – There was never much doubt about which team would walk away from the Region 4-AAA wrestling tournament with the most individual champs and the overall team title. The Bradley Bears, ranked second in the state all year, have had a great season to this point and it just got a little bit better early Saturday evening at Cleveland Middle School. By claiming ... (click for more)