At least 37 shot in Chicago this weekend

April 22, 2008 11:22:38 AM PDT
At least 37 people were shot in Chicago over the weekend. Eight of the shootings were fatal. Chicago police received dozens of 911 calls about the gun violence around the city this weekend. They acknowledge that 37 shootings is a big number for a three-day period.

Six people were hit in three separate shootings late Sunday night on the city's West Side.

At about 10:30 p.m., witnesses say a car pulled up to a group of men standing on the corner of 21st and California and someone inside the car started shooting. A 26-year-old construction worker was killed and two of his friends were wounded.

Mount Sinai Hospital treated three gunshot victims, including a man and woman who pulled up to the emergency room in their bullet riddled minivan.

A 25-year-old man was shot and killed near Karlov and Polk.

Maria Bejar decided to move from the Little Village neighborhood after her brother was shot to death last year.

"Hopefully, law enforcement gets stronger and hopefully they work something out on, because it's ridiculous that I can't enjoy myself at night because I'm always worried about getting shot or killed," said Maria Bejar, Chicago resident.

Police superintendent Jody Weis continues to blame gangs for the ongoing violence.

"You have too many guns and too many guns and too much drugs on the street," said Jody Weis.

Stopping the violence is now becoming a priority as the weather begins to warm up.

"It's going to be a long summer. Parents better take responsibility for them," said Daley.

Chicago's gangs

One gang expert in Chicago says that it is not just a matter of getting additional gun legislation, but also addressing the bigger problem of resolving poverty, especially in some of the most oppressed communities of the city. He said that one of the important things is to address these concerns, such as housing, displacement of residents. This displacement has, in his words, led to conflicts between gangs that used to be living in different areas. Now as they come together, conflict erupts over turf as these people try to compete for their business.

Criminologist and author John Hagedorn also went on to comparing the city of Chicago to the city of New York, which had one-third the homicide rate of Chicago last year. The reason for this, he said, is because the gangs are more entrenched here and therefore it is harder to fight

Wven though there has been a sharp decrease in homicides and other gun-related violence from 10 years ago, the fact remains Chicago last year had 443 homicides, New York had 496, but New York has three times the population, which effectively means Chicago has three times the murder rate.

Hagedorn says it goes back to the drug wars of the 1990s.

"In New York, nobody was really happy they were there and bringing the violence and so when the police cracked down, it broke the gangs up. Here, those same gangs have been there for 50 years," he said.

Hagedorn is the author of a book on gang culture. He says because the gangs are more entrenched here and less structured, they are harder to eradicate and he points to city housing policies which have weakened already poor neighborhoods.

"The housing needs to be improved. Lawndale used to be 120,000; now it's 40,000 people. Where are they? Nobody knows. We need to invest so that the people who live there have a reason to stay there," he said.

Hagedorn said if people are invested in the communities that they live in, they will no longer tolerate the gangs conducting their drug business there.

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