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Why Are So Many Young Black Males Killing Each Other in Chicago?

Why is Chicago exploding in so much gun violence—and why hasn’t there been more national attention focused on the problem?

That was the intriguing premise of a roundtable the Huffington Post brought together to dig into the problem of the Chicago murder rate. Chicago-based journalists and activists were asked to address the question of what’s going on in the Windy City.

For some perspective, the host Marc Lamont Hill threw out some statistics that put a sobering spin on the conversation: Since 2001, about 2,000 American service men and women have died in Afghanistan; in that same time period, 5,000 people have died in Chicago.

Yet the nation doesn’t appear to even realize how bad thing have gotten in Chicago—at the same time as the murder rate has fallen precipitously in other big cities like New York and Los Angeles. And the numbers continue to go up. As of the end of July, homicides in the city were up about 27 percent and in the first quarter of 2012 the number of murders had jumped 60 percent over 2011.

As Hill pointed out, most of those being killed are young African-American males—who are also most of those doing the killing.

Father Michael Pfleger, a Catholic priest who lives and works in the community, said that fractured gangs and a sense of hopelessness among community residents can be blamed for much of the violence. Neighborhoods and schools have been broken up, sending the gang members to new and unfamiliar parts of the city—where they often clash with the gang members who already were there.

“In the neighborhood I live in, there’s high unemployment and  I have 7 public schools around me that are all low-performing schools,” Pfleger said. “We have in this community more guns than we have computers. There’s a code of silence, a breakdown in the relationship with the police and community. And people have become immune, This is something we got to live with, gunshots and helicopters every night.”

Kathy Chaney, a reporter for the Chicago Defender, said things have gotten so out of control that “I’m fearful to walk down the street.”

Rosa Clemente, an activist based in Amherst, Massachusetts, said that America is a violent nation—one of the most violent in the world—and what’s happening in Chicago is a reflection of that. In addition, she said, “we have underemployment, over incarceration, and too many police view us as inhuman and dispensable…We need to look at how the guns are getting into our comunities. Do we have factories? Are we making the guns. We need to look at how young people have lost hope in their elders and politicians. Violence in this country is often rewarded—just not with these young people.”

But Pete Nickeas, crime reporter for the Chicago Tribune, said that we need to keep the numbers in perspective. He said the violence was actually worse 10 years ago, but it looks bad now because it’s been going up while other cities are going down.

Nickeas said that while the fracturing of the gangs sent the violence into neighborhoods that didn’t have it before, there has also been a significant reduction in the size of the police force, which has reduced the force’s ability to continuously patrol the neighborhoods.

“They moved those cops out to the districts,” he said.


What people are saying

26 thoughts on “Why Are So Many Young Black Males Killing Each Other in Chicago?

  1. Jason Warren says:

    white supremacy racism is doing its job. its job is to present helplessness, joblessness, homosexuality, incarceration, racial population tailoring, racial relocation, mis-education, promotion of self hate which leads to genocide and justified extermination.

  2. Timothy Wahl says:

    why not admit the truth…gun laws that are present in Chicago DO NOT WORK…take away the guns and crime goes up…its proven fact….give people guns to protect themselves and crime goes down. jason…heres another fact…in Chicago most blacks are killed by other blacks…its a fact…get off the "white supremacy racism"..the race card for the last 40 years has been played out.

  3. Alfred Bundy says:

    After all these years of this normal behavior, this is being asked? WHen you have a race of almost total and complete racists like blacks, who act like animals in most places and uncivilized animals in the jungle everywhere they go, who want freebies for life, cling to "oh we were slaves, big fing deal, hate every single other race other than blacks. refuse to learn, refuse to work, refuse ti become compplete, civilized humans, live in trash, make trash, murder, steal beat up, vadalize, don't wash, and ruin EVERY SINGLE PLAVE THEIR RACE EVER OCCUPIES, WTF do you expecty?

    Then you have the 10% or so who have gotten past all that and are normal, regular, nice decent people. What do the other blacks do? They call them uncle tom and other names, say they want to be white, etc, and mock on them and hate them. Those animals should look up and emulate these people, but never will. That is why the killings and race will never reach full human development.

  4. Brian Lee says:

    Who cares? Live by the sword, die by the sword! Don't care what color the thugs are! Keep up the good work!

  5. Hank Green says:

    Didn't Kanye say this in the song Murder for excellence ?? Just asking !!!

  6. David Rush says:

    "Rosa Clemente, an activist based in Amherst, Massachusetts, said that America is a violent nation—one of the most violent in the world" What? I guess she never heard of all the suicide bombers in the Middle East. What about all the violence in Central and South America?

  7. Edidion Musique says:

    Just wish entertainers who have influence on us young people would rap, sing and talk about it…. rather than focusing on irrelevant things… we dying out here and it shouldn't be that way at all.

  8. Anonymous says:

    wherever large amounts of THEM are you will always have large amounts of crime. Maybe it is THEM that is the problem? We all know who the THEM is/are.

  9. Kevin Price says:

    There only black.

  10. David Gibson says:

    This is not a national issue this is a parenting issue, kids today do not have any values instilled in them by their parents.

  11. David Wafford says:

    In America its every mans job to make his dreams come true. Not the govt. or some programs to help "blacks" in Chicago. Im white,doing ok,certainly not rich,and I dont benefit from any government programs to make my life better,LOL. I accept who I am,my position in life,and Im not out shooting people cause its hard to make it on these streets…..You cant justify murder or point fingers in gang banger crime,by blaming the white man,,,,dont you see you are part of the problem….we must demand personal accountability.

  12. Lauren Sanko says:

    Homosexuality is a presented as a choice?? Hmmm, maybe you have bigger issues than white supremacy. When you start blaming some other race for choosing a gay lifestyle, you know you have officially jumped the shark with excuses.

  13. Anonymous says:

    That's what they call "keepin' it real".

  14. Larry Wolff says:

    How cumz them donut kil de emeny?

  15. Steve Brown says:

    well you blacks don't understand if all the black on black crimes were news we would miss the weather.

  16. Steve Brown says:

    clean your own streets up get gang banger police force why should white people i don't owe you nothing call Obama your schools are like a junkyard even if whites put jobs in sick car go no one will work get with al baby sharp as a marble hey what about Jessie Jackson black wealth won't live their you still alive

  17. Steve Brown says:

    out of 16,457 killings 65% were black on black crime the boolds and crips

  18. Combination. Kids should have mentors and grownups to admire. The social pressures for gangs need to be broken through other options. Busy or lousy parents are going to be around so leadership in community needs to step in.

  19. Jim Mulder says:

    The numbers are to small, Could you baboons step the murder rate. Maybe 200 coons a day.

  20. Bryan Vockie says:

    Black gang scum should kill each other and please hurry so we can get on with important issues…or lets just exterminate them ASAP

  21. Deawon Smith says:

    if there was real grandmothers out here and they know thats there grandchild and your sorry ass son do not do shit ms Johnny Wright you worser than Herbert Smith your son 738 Grantly you raised all your kids by your self be a woman

  22. Johnny Fleming says:

    The real reason is all young people are brainwashed for failure by rap music…just look at them with the head phones on… This music drives them nuts…it's proven wrap music of any type causes more brain damage than crack… Combine that with many family generations of less fortunate kids on public assistance…add in a pro feminist society that rewards females for bad behavior… A pro black society that also is scared to outlaw the negative parts of black culture that the media glorifys for profit… Blacks also vote for all the wrong reasons ie hiring nothing but a community organizer to be the leader of the free world… (Democrats have done nothing good in history for minority's other than keep them all stuck on welfare ) … Lincon was a republican… Stop the wrap music and the gun violence will go down as the kids brains start to recover… Add in church or constructive hobbies and society will heal.. It's really as simple as that…

  23. Linda Lu says:

    That's not nice but very funny! lol

  24. Man shut your racistass the fuck up. How about you give that pin-it-on-whitey bullshit a rest.

  25. what do we say?….

  26. Mary Baker says:

    Black on Black crime-slave owners pitted slaves against each other."keep em fighting among themselves." Whose stirring the pot?

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