Chicago Held Hostage by Violence

Police investigate the shooting in Cornell Square Park in Chicago on Sept. 19, 2013. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Police investigate the shooting in Cornell Square Park in Chicago on Sept. 19, 2013. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

(The Root) — "They need to stop, they need to stop," Semecha Nunn told the Chicago Tribune after her 3-year-old grandson was shot late Thursday as neighbors played basketball at a park on Chicago's South Side.


Police are investigating the shooting, which left 13 people wounded after two men in a gray sedan reportedly pulled up to Cornell Square Park in the Back of Yards neighborhood about 10:15 p.m. and began firing automatic weapons.

Nunn is not the first person to call for an end to senseless violence that has wracked the city as if in a war zone. So great is the problem that at least one lawmaker this summer called for the National Guard to patrol the streets.

And on Monday, the FBI released a report showing that Chicago registered more homicides in 2012 than any other city in the nation, recording 500 murders, up sharply from 431 in 2011, the Washington Post reports. Chicago surpassed New York as the murder capital of the United States, even though the Big Apple has three times the population.

Thursday night's shooting spree comes almost three weeks after Chicago experienced a spate of violence over the Labor Day weekend that ended with eight dead and 20 others injured. Despite the bloodshed, Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy has said that overall, violence is down so far this year compared with last year. He attributes much of the violence to gang rivalries and retaliatory shootings.

Beyond turf wars, there are larger societal issues at play amid the gunfire. Civic leaders and lawmakers point to economic distress and disenfranchisement of average citizens, saying that unemployment, lack of health insurance, poor housing and education are also leading factors in violence that is imploding Chicago's black communities. Experts also point to a lack of proper parenting techniques.

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus held an emergency urban-violence summit in July to discuss solutions to the city's undulating violence. Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Ill.), who replaced Jesse Jackson Jr., told NPR that shootings in her district — specifically the July 4 weekend, during which 74 people were shot — was a major reason for the summit.


Solutions formulated during the summit are still forthcoming. Meanwhile, the bloodshed continues and a grandmother sobs, "They need to stop."

Editor's note: Read about the influence of social media on Chicago's gang wars and violence in The Grapevine.


Lynette Holloway is a contributing editor at The Root.