By Kate Cortes and Marcus Session
Gun violence has been an issue in Chicago in general and Rogers Park is no exception. The Chicago Sun-Times wrote a story detailing the death of a 17-year-old boy who was shot 8 times in Rogers Park. The newspaper also covered a drive-by shooting that occurred earlier this month in the neighborhood.
When referring to the question if Chicago’s gun violence has indeed gone up, Louie Goros, the Sheriff at the Cook County Police Department of 31 years said, “Yes, absolutely gone up.”
When asked his opinion as to why he said, “My personal opinion would be the rhetoric that is anti police…so in layman’s terms, the bad guys, the gangbangers, and all the criminals, they see that the public and the government, and their own police departments are against the police. So that gives them a little step above saying we can do anything we want.”
Just last fall, there were two murders in Rogers Park during a killing spree by the “Duck Walk Killer.” These murders happened within two days and took the lives of 73-year-old Douglas Watts and 24-year-old Eliyahu Moscowitz. The killer is still at large.
Gun violence is a sensitive topic as individuals may have seen or even lost loved ones to the violence. Christopher Tamayo, who is 21 and a lifelong resident in Rogers Park, has seen it all.
“There was this guy running across the street on Ridge and noticed somebody behind him fired a shot on him on his leg and then the guy ran up to him,” said Tamayo. [He] shot him in the head and then ran off.”
Rogers Park has had the stigma of being one of Chicago’s most dangerous neighborhoods over the years. This may be because crime seems to be increasing in the area, rather than decreasing. An article by the Loyola Phoenix, the Loyola University student newspaper, highlights the crimes that took place in Rogers Park over the summer, which includes seven shootings and three armed robberies.
Rogers Park is located between the Loyola and Morse Red Line stops on Chicago’s northside near Evanston. This neighborhood boasts being home to Loyola University and all of the attractions that come with it. With that being said, crime exists everywhere, even in the same area as the glamorous university.
Impact of the Shootings
Targeted violence is another problem the community faces. It seems as though many disputes and arguments are settled through violence, whether that be by fighting or shooting. The latter option can certainly put people in peril, including those who aren’t targeted.
Crossfires are a major risk to any type of shootout, and unfortunately can take the lives of those in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“I have a family member who has unfortunately passed away due to gun violence in Rogers Park,” Tamayo said. “It was right in front of my school. I was 12…”I lost a friend to gun violence, which was not too far from my school. [He] got shot in the chest. He was sent to shop for groceries and that’s the last time I’ve ever seen him.”
According to Fox News, 174 minors have been killed and 1,665 children have been shot since 2011 in Chicago. 246 minors in 2017 alone.
When asked if he expects to see changes, Tamayo said “I feel like it’s just going to remain this way. You hear about the same thing every day, like Halloween, the girl who got shot below the neck while trick-or-treating, it’s not going to change. Lately it’s been kids that have been shot by stray bullets, they’ll be at home watching TV, and die on the sofa man.”
“Excuse my French, that’s how f—-ed up Chicago is. Not the place to be.” Tamayo said.
Gun violence in Chicago has been a major problem throughout the years, even with the attempts for stricter gun laws. It sometimes seems as if it will never get better, if it is it does not look like it is clearing up any time soon.
There is the debate that taking away all guns will solve this problem. The other side that says that taking away the guns will not do anything.
What Could Be Causing the Rise of Gun Violence?
People question what is the meaning of all this violence. They wonder why Chicago has high violence rates. Sheriff Goros said, “…then they have the gangs trying to sell their drugs in certain areas where now this other gang is operating in that area,” he said “next thing you know, gun violence goes up.”
He spoke further on the subject, “Most of the shootings that occur in Chicago, in the city’s limits, they’re all gang related, 80% of them,” he said. “Over turf…they don’t care, they have no value of life.”
Gang related incidents are directly contributing to the gun violence in Chicago. Shootings are not only harming and taking the lives of other gang members, but also innocent people caught up in the wrong place at the wrong time; some of those instances over drugs as well.
Recently, with the increasing awareness of police brutality and abuse of power, he describes it being highly influenced by the opposition to the police. All this backlash is preventing them to actually do their job. According to Goros, all the extra regulations they have to go through to even do something as little as a stop, makes the policemen be hesitant to do so.
“A lot of policemen, not that they’re afraid of anything, these are noble people, men and women going to work, risking their lives everyday,” Goros said. “They don’t know when they’re going to come back to their families, but they know that if they step on somebody’s toes the wrong way…next thing you know the department is suspending them,” he explained. “Nobody wants to be the next YouTube sensation.”
What’s Next for Rogers Park?
“I don’t see it changing. It’s always been like this,” Tamayo said.
Tamayo’s feelings may represent the despair some residents of the neighborhood feel.
With more social peace groups, more police presence, and more community events that encourage a stop to violence, maybe the gun violence will decrease. This is not something that will happen overnight, but steps can be made little by little. Hopefully Rogers Park will be seen as one of Chicago’s safest neighborhoods in the years to come.
What Can Be Done About This?
Goros He wants to reinstate old regulations that actually helped the police take more possible threats off the streets. This all just stems from the frustration of the policemen having their hands tied in these situations with very little they can do to prevent the next shootout. However, it does not mean it will stop them from trying to attack this problem at all possible angles.
“There has to be some sort of systematic way to let the police do their jobs, in other words we need to stop more cars, we need to stop the gangbangers on the street,” he said. “Chicago used to have a thing called “Gang Loitering”…you’re on patrol and you see two or more known documented gangbangers…they can arrest them for being on the street with two or more [gangbangers].”