December 22nd of 2016 brought a great article to the NY Times entitled Bored, Broke, and Armed: Clues to Chicago’s Gang Violence. It focused and tried to rationalize the severity of violence that is currently within the city of Chicago. In fact, as of Wednesday, there has been 739 murders which have caused 2016 the deadliest year since 1997. Both the Cubs and violence managed to make 2016 a historic year. The author of this article, John Eligon, sheds a negative limelight on the notion that such violence is merely caused by gang members.
He first cited police statements such as the idea that a majority of the cities 3,451 shootings this year has been perpetrated by gang-related activity, and then said such claims are very “fuzzy” and tries to discredit it. This is not something new of course. The Chicago Police Department constantly tries to put blame on gang involvement to explain the illegal activity occurring every single night. Back in 2015, this same Police Department stated that 85 percent of the cities gun murders were attributed to gang violence (Chicago violence, homicides, and shootings up in 2015). The Police fail to define however the definition of what a gang is which is very important at this point given the level of change these gangs have gone through. According to experts such as Lance Williams, who is the co-author of a book about the rise and fall of the Black P Stone Nation (A gang that was eradicated in the 1980’s), gangs are no longer the sophisticated drug-selling organizations they once were like the Latin Kings. Now, they are more so younger and less structured “cliques” that fail to claim more of the city than one or two blocks.
The Chicago Police Department must look more into the issue of what exactly is a gang before they use the word with such freelance. By doing so they are perpetuating the violence and fail to mention how poverty and unemployment are adding to the violence as well. More than half of the population lives in poverty in Parkway and the surrounding neighborhood (Eligon, 2016). This poverty is overlooked when the violence is blamed simply on gangs and it will only call on legislation that tries to eradicate a gang that is simply not there as opposed to legislation that offers help to these people facing poverty.