Chicago violence targets youth in black and Latino neigborhoods.
Chicago violence targets youth, the underlining tragedy born of all the death and violence now ravaging the youth and streets and of the nation’s second city solemnly revolves around the realization that soon there may be no next generation to save.
Not only did Chicago lead the nation in homicides in 2012, over the last several years, the epidemic degenerated to the point that it now callously stands as a symbol of the daily and deadly war waged among its young, and in most cases, most vulnerable.
From 2008 through 2012, nearly half of all the city’s 2,839 homicide victims died before their 25th birthday, including some 530 youths cut down before so much as reaching the state’s legal bar hopping age of just 21. Last year alone, 243 people under 25 were killed within city limits, an 11 percent increase over 2011 and a 26 percent jump from 2010.
In addition, nearly 60 percent all those convicted of such crimes in 2011 were also under that age, even though, according to 2011 Census estimates that demographic composes just one-third of the city’s overall population.
Equally startling, yet perhaps not that surprisingly, all 21 of the city’s leading communities for youth homicide — overall more than 80 percent — border a majority of black or Latino neighborhoods, areas long and systematically dogged by heightened poverty levels, lingering unemployment and vastly disadvantaged educational opportunities.
It’s all in stark contrast to the scene emanating from a stretch of as many as 22 far more affluent cross-city neighborhoods, converted sanctuaries where no more than one youth killing each occurred over that same four-year period.
Despite what city officials tout as their best laid plans in alleviating all the carnage and disproportionate numbers, the handcuffing restraints of joblessness, dilapidation, and overall instability continue to yield crippling effects.
As a community activist, 70-year-old Wiley Rogers spent his life pondering such anomalies. He readily speaks of the cause and effect dilemma he sees plaguing his Woodlawn neighborhood.
“What is the mindset of the person when the future holds no hope,” he told The Chicago Reporter. “Historically, every generation has had the promise and hope of the future out there. These kids don’t have that. What matters is today. It leads to this horrible fatalism, where life ain’t worth living anymore.”