Focus on gang violence after shootings

July 2, 2012 3:52:32 PM PDT
The shooting death of Heaven Sutton, 7, is putting new attention on police efforts to fight gang violence.

On Monday, Chicago's top cop, Superintendent Garry McCarthy, talked about gang violence as anti-violence advocates in some neighborhoods fought a "shoot first" mentality.

It was another violent weekend in Chicago, during which a toddler was shot and a teenager was killed in separate shootings.

While the police department and anti-violence groups continue to retool their strategies, some residents who live in the city's most dangerous neighborhoods say they have lost hope that anything can be done to make it a safer summer.

A squad car rolled through the Pullman neighborhood on the city's far South Side Monday, and some neighbors said a police presence is a rare sight unless there has been a shooting. There was a shooting over the weekend; a 3-year-old was shot in the arm when someone opened fire near the corner of 120th Street and Halsted.

Nakiya Smith, 16, lives a couple blocks away. Smith sticks close to home most of the time because she hears gunshots often.

"It was just the other day when they were just shooting, and my old grandma was like: 'They're shooting outside,' and I was like, 'No, gran, it's just fireworks, it's just fireworks,' but, come to find out, there really was shooting," said Smith.

Smith is convinced more police patrols would help, but Karl Bell of Ceasefire says the police can only do so much.

"The police's job is to enforce the law, so with violence prevention, you have to get in and try to deal with the behavior - the abnormal behavior," said Bell. "Their job is not to deal with the behavior."

Bell says dealing with behavior is his job as one of the men on the ground with Ceasefire. A former gang leader who spent 20 years in prison for murder, Bell says kids today shoot first and ask questions later.

"As soon as you get into an argument, you break and get a gun; somebody steps on your shoe, you break and get a gun," said Bell. "The kids want a reputation... they want to be known as somebody not to mess with."

Speaking from experience, Bell says most kids regret it after doing hard time. Meanwhile, the Chicago police continue their strategy of holding gang members accountable for the actions of one of their own. Jerrell Dorsey is charged with last week's murder of Heaven Sutton. Police are trying to break up Dorsey's gang.

"The faction of that gang that was involved with the murder of the 7-year-old is being dismantled as we speak," said Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy. "We've executed warrants, we've gone to the places where they work, we're shutting down their corners that they sell narcotics at."

Some crime experts disagree with the police department's accountability strategy because there are so many gangs in Chicago. Experts say it has become a city of cliques rather than a city of big gangs.

While there have been several shootings every weekend, residents do not seem to believe that this year is any different from last or the year before.


Load Comments