Tuesday, January 8, 2013

“We don’t label them - they label themselves."

Englewood Neighborhood Of Chicago Denies Gang Violence Problem
Article written by John Brown's Bones

Englewood neighborhood of Chicago attempts to understand the factors that make it such a dangerous place - including the widespread denial of the impact of gang violence.

CHICAGO, IL. - The video that have you just seen is a total lie. A fabrication.

This "story" is told by a series of frightened or misguided people who want to run from an inescapable truth. The truth is that more US citizens were killed in the streets of Chicago in 2012 at 506 than in the war in Afghanistan in the very same year, at 306[0].

The fact of this matter is that little has changed with Chicago’s gang problem in the last 20 years. The beginning of the crack-cocaine epidemic may be over today but there were still over 3,000 gang members arrested and 506 murders in Chicago by the end of 2012. That is nearly 100 more murders, or 22% more, in Chicago than in 2011, and 200 more than in an active war zone.

This video, created by Columbia College instructor Natalie Moore, presents a case that murders in Chicago have been cut "in half" but that is very misleading.

In 1991, there were almost 1,000 murders in Chicago with 927. That was the second highest number of homicides in the city's history since in almost 50 years. Only 1974, with the entire country in the total chaos of Watergate, Viet Nam and a cultural revolution were there more murders, with 970.

The crack epidemic has annually and regularly caused nearly as many murders as it spread from 1990 to 1994 in the city of Chicago. Yet, there was no wide-spread and turbulent political chaos or highly controversial war causing the killings. There were crack dealers temporarily guarding their sales from other crack dealers. Crack addicts killing for loose change to buy more crack.

And they very quickly were ripping a major American city apart.

Charting murders in Chicago 1950-2012.
This chart represents police records for murders in Chicago in 1965, 1974 and from 1991 to 2012.

Since 1990, there have been between 448 to 851 murders in the city each year for the past 23 years. In 1965, prior to cocaine and the coming of street gangs that sold it's widespread introduction to the streets, there were less than 400 murders annually recorded. Chicago Police records show a huge increase in the amounts of murder during the beginning of the crack epidemic from 1990 onward - and a regularly large amount of killings today that has become "normal".

To put put this all into perspective there are not more people in Chicago than there were in 1965 there are less. There are one million less people in Chicago (2.6 million) today then there were in 1965 (3.5-3.7 million) - and yet the murder rate has doubled.

Charting population drop off in Chicago 1950-2012.
Chicago has 1.1 million less people today than it did in 1970 yet the murder rate has doubled.

Are people, in Natalie Moore's extremely poorly researched report simply angrier than they were in the nationally turbulent 1960's? Or, are they simply more homicidal today than 47 years ago? Why doesn't this report mention the social effects of the crack epidemic or denounce the senselessness of murder? Why doesn't Moore address the fact that in a three day period from March 16th to 19th in 2012 that 41 people, mostly African-American, were shot and killed in Chicago? That's a murder every hour and ten minutes.

These questions, and the fact that Chicago's murder rate has nearly doubled in 47 years, is never addressed by the former city hall reporter for the Detroit News, former education reporter for the St. Paul Pioneer Press and recipient of The Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism.

To make matters worse it appears as if one the highest drug and gang crime ridden neighborhoods in Chicago, Englewood where 144 serious crimes are reported each month including Rape, Assault and Murder, has taken to calling gang related violence "interpersonal" violence instead of dealing with the reality of their own critical situation.

Interpersonal, is a communications term meaning between "involving two people". Using this term is not a realistic way of dealing with shootings and attacks that are based solely on drug profits or the result of smoking crack cocaine. Of course, according to this report, it's "only between two people" and not about drugs - according Moore's recent and bizarre interpretation without a shred of fact to back any of her assertions up.

In her report, Moore claims that the Chicago police don't understand the difference between a revenge shooting between rival gang members and an "interpersonal" shooting. Then, she presents a case that murder and gang activity are two separate things despite the fact that homicides and gang activity were at highly disturbing and unmistakable levels in Chicago in 2012.

The story's main focus, the murder of Cornelius Jordan, is also called an "interpersonal" dispute but Jordan, as reported by the Chicago Tribune, was killed by two men who fired into a large crowd of people. This is not an interaction between two people. There were more than 10 people present at Cornelius Jordan's murder - two them were the murderers.

This story is a clear attempt to lull citizens of dangerous and drug-infested neighborhoods, like Englewood, into a false sense of security. Moore claims that the large amount of murders that have coincided with the crack epidemic's rise in the black community in Chicago since the 1990's is strictly coincidental and no longer a major factor today.

Nothing to worry about.

Today, law enforcement still locks up notorious gang leaders and declares another short-lived victory over crack distribution networks. They do it just long enough to discover another gang selling crack on the same corner they just busted the previous gang on. And then, they arrest the new crack dealers - if these drug dealers are still alive and not murdered in an "interpersonal" dispute.

Some of today’s gangs are actually small, splintered groups or crews that are harder to track than large groups like The Gangster Disciplines or The Vice Lords - whose membership at their peak was in the tens of thousands - meaning that is was easy to identify individuals, their patterns and their hierarchy.

Small gang members can hide the fact that they are in a gang very easily - even from neighbors.

Joe Gorman is commander of the gang investigation division for the Chicago Police Department. He spoke with Moore about her doubts that a rise in murders and gang activity are somehow connected.

“We don’t label members for the majority, they label themselves. They’re very proud of their gang and they’re self-admitted gang members,” said Gorman. “Secondly, there’s part of some investigative work that may identify a person as a gang member, whether it be through an investigation or whether it be be through different tattoos.”

Moore quickly dismisses Lt. Gorman's remarks by saying, through the next interview that: "emotions play a big role". What?! This immediately raises the question: how many murders take place with no emotion? Another interview offers a coached answer that the plague of violence is "interpersonal". He said the word like he'd never heard it prior to meeting Natalie Moore...

Although decades of records from independent sources, police expert testimony and impartial statistics, that are available to anyone with an Internet connection, each point to crack cocaine and the inner city gangs that distribute them as a leading cause of homicide - Natalie Moore insists that the entire phenomena doesn't exist as a major factor. That this ongoing epidemic is just a few arguments gone wrong where "emotions play a big role" in "interpersonal" homicides.

It is shockingly irresponsible to make such a preposterous claim. It is even worse for those who believe Natalie Moore's claim there is no connection between murder, cocaine and the gangs who sell it major urban areas like Chicago.

[0] = Source iCasualties reporting of US Dept. Of Defense official accounts of K.I.A. in Afghanistan.

WTTW Channel 11, Are All Chicago Murders Drug Related?
Wikipedia, Crime In Chicago
Wikipedia, Demographics Of Chicago
Red Eye, Chicago Homicide Figures
Wikipedia , US Force Casualties In Afghanistan
Chicago Tribune, Englewood Crime Map