By: J. Buchanan
Photo by: Stefano Esposito
Contributor: B. Faloona
Gun violence perpetuated by Chicago street gangs is a constant problem that affects everyone in Chicago; not just the rival feuding gangs, but everyone. Children, mothers, people just passing by. Innocent people. No you say? It’s some far away thing, happening in some faraway place? It’s only drug runners and thugs killing each other for clout, bragging rights, or a few tiny blocks of territory?
The story I am about to relate to you is a truly and deeply tragic story, especially for me, but not just because of where, or what happened, but because it could have been me.
Growing up in Auburn Gresham, at the age 9 in November, I remember going to school in the morning, and walking home, kicking leaves under the Fall afternoon sunsets, ready to get home, and go outside and play football with friends. I was just a kid thinking about simple things, like how many days I had until cherished Thanksgiving break, so I could just get some time to spend with my brothers, and cousins.
Fast forward ten years later to Tyshawn Lee: a young boy, a kid, living on the the South Side of Chicago. A young African-American boy just like me, living in my old neighborhood.
Tyshawn woke up that morning just like I had woken up in the past, happy to see his family, and come home and play with my friends. Not thinking of any violence, or anything harmful– just having a free spirit. Not thinking about concrete stained with red puddles, fading to a dark purple, and growing darker to grit, and black.
It was on one of those same regular mornings that Tyshawn Lee was murdered.
Tyshawn was lured into an alley by someone who was gunning for his father, but couldn’t find him. The murderer had decided someone was going to pay the price, that he was going to get his, and he wasn’t afraid of what he would have to do to make sure the message was sent.
It’s a feeling that there is nowhere that you can run. It’s like even if you never go near those people, or ever even leave your house, you could still be hurt by the seemingly unending violence that surrounds you. It’s like living in a war-zone, but you’re not on either side of the war.
Tyshawn could have easily been me, or any of my friends that I grew up with around that time. How many children have to die due to senseless killings? Gun violence in Chicago affects everyone in our city. Gun violence in Chicago is nothing new, it has been around since my parents were my age. Now, even a couple years after I have moved out of Auburn Gresham, and I am almost grown, the violence is still terrorizing the community, and in my opinion, the entire city.
How can it be that acts of violence so terrible can go seemingly unnoticed? Or even worse, that some people think that the people living in these communities are all bad people, and criminals. They just reduce these places to bad “neighborhoods”, and they take the highway, or go through the drive-thru, or pay at the pump, worse yet– they download an app that tells them where the most crimes occur, a computer program that plants a nameless, faceless red flag, that stands for nothing, and blots out anything good in a community where there are also just a lot of good people that just work, and live, and try to take care of their families.
I believe it’s this mentality that plays a major role in the violence. People don’t look for the small stories.
In recent interviews the police superintendent said that we were making progress as a city with gun violence— when then several hours later the city erupted in violence and it hasn’t come back down. If anything you would think the people doing all the senseless shooting would stop after the stories are in the news, but this is not the case. Why is this such a recurring problem in our city? Why after all of these years there has not been a decrease in the violence, but there has been a constant increase in the gun violence in Chicago?
According to NBC News, the total amount of homicides in Chicago has reached more than the total amount of homicides in Los Angeles and New York combined. Last year the total amount of people shot in Chicago was 2996 people, with the total amount of homicides at 490, and now halfway through the year 2016 there have been nearly 2200 people shot, and there has been 342 homicides (Chicago Tribune). According to the DailyCaller.com, someone gets shot in Chicago every 2.8 hours.
Why? Why does it happen? And why has it not stopped? Chicago violence does affect everyone even if they think it does not. Maybe some day we will have the answers we need until then…
Hundreds walked past the red casket in front of the altar to pray over Tyshawn, who wore a white tuxedo and a red bow tie. A red fedora was placed next to his head, two basketballs near his feet. Tyshawn’s mother kissed her son goodbye on the forehead and nearly collapsed in grief as she cried out “Lord have mercy!” Dozens of Tyshawn’s classmates at Scott Joplin Elementary School attended the funeral. Davon Gordon, 11, said he was best friends with Tyshawn and brought a card to the church to give the slain boy’s family (Chicago Sun Times).
“We liked to play basketball and get on the swings. I’m going to miss him,” Gordon said.
White doves were released into the sky in front of the church as Tyshawn’s casket left the building.
Until we believe that these acts all touch us, and effect all of us, we will never seriously start to come up with solutions to this unspeakable, and tragic problem.
Like Chance the Rapper has said,
“It’s really just a very scummy place where people don’t have respect for other people’s lives. And it’s not gonna change until somebody, anybody, puts it right in front of everybody else’s faces.”
At least someone is trying to come up with solutions!