Gun Violence in Rogers Park

By Kate Cortes and Marcus Session

Photo by 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.

The Violence

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?

Photo by Marcus Session

“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?

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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].”

Unemployment Rates in America: Are the numbers misleading?

By Kate Cortes and Jessica Vattiprolu

Photo by Kate Cortes

Discouraged and frustrated, millions of Americans are spending months and sometimes even years without a job. The bills do not stop and neither do any of their responsibilities, but yet despite their best efforts, it is still difficult for them to find work. Some commuting hours away just to take whatever job they can get, no matter the inconvenience. 

Mr. Bhanuchander Ledalla, an IT professional who has been unemployed for 7 months shared his story and what he believes to be the main cause for unemployment, “Skillset. I work in the IT industry and I specialize in one skillset. But nowadays, everyone is asking for multiple skill sets for the same job because they want to hire one person to do multiple jobs, which I believe is the main cause for unemployment.” Mr. Ledalla applied to over 500 positions in the 7 months that he was unemployed, actively looking for work. Eventually, he got a job in Wisconsin and worked remotely most days, while commuting over 2 hours to work once or twice a week when he travelled from Chicago. Why are intelligent, highly-qualified workers struggling so much and for so long to find a job? 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for Illinois has dropped to 4%. This has been the lowest unemployment there has been in the past few years. The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics mentioned the rate went down even further this year by 0.2% since July. The decline of unemployment rates over the past few years is shown in the graphic below.

Unemployment is not just measured by one group; there are actually many components that contribute to unemployment. The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics measures unemployment by people who want to work. By that meaning, people need to be actually searching for jobs submitting resumes and calling workplaces for opportunities. 

Mr. Ledalla went on to discuss what he thinks needs to be done in this country to improve unemployment rates long-term, “America mostly hires through outsourcing to other countries for labor but if this can be taught in the school level, if students can learn coding from childhood, they will be more skilled and can be employed easier.” 

What Unemployment Means 

Photo taken from Creative Commons

UIC Economics professor Paul Pieper said, “Unemployed doesn’t just mean you are without a job, you have to be without a job and actively searching for a job.”

He explains the misconception about being unemployed. One needs to be searching, if that is not the case, then one would be considered to be part of the “discouraged worker” group.

“A discouraged worker would be somebody who wants to work but they’re not actively looking for a job,” Pieper said. “If you’re not actively looking you’re not gonna show up in the unemployment figures.” For example, stay-at-home parents and college graduates that are taking time off school and not actively looking for a job are not included in the unemployment statistics. 

Keep in mind, the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics keeps track of who is wanting to work and has something to show for it. These people who are not taking any steps to obtain a job are being left out of the count. That has a direct effect on the general unemployment rate. 

Why are Unemployment Rates Low Then?

Pieper said some of the possibilities as to why the Bureau received low unemployment data. One of them being that it could be that people are just not actively searching for jobs anymore. Hence, the “discouraged worker” concept comes into the picture. 

He said, “The number of people actively looking for jobs went down so why that happened maybe some people gave up so, the lower unemployment rate doesn’t necessarily mean that things are getting better in the workforce.” 

However, UIC professor, Ben Ost, gave his input on this subject. He said, “the bureau of labor static also releases unemployment rates that include discouraged workers and they just count them as unemployed and it’s not a huge group, and so I don’t think the general statistics about unemployment rate is gonna be terribly influenced by that.” 

So while people may believe Chicago is at a good spot with jobs, however like Pieper said, it isn’t always a good thing. He mentioned that wages are one of the contributing factors to the unemployment rate. 

Photo by Kate Cortes

What Are Some of the Main Problems?

“Generally, wage growth has been sort of disappointing during this recovery, so wages have been going up but just a little bit more than inflation,” he said. “So if they’re only going up by inflation, your standards of living really isn’t getting better, you’re just keeping up with the cost of living.” 

According to Pieper, wages are barely keeping up with inflation, which is not a good thing either. This means that people’s wages are going up every year not completely for their benefit, but only to match just enough to match inflation. That should say something about the unemployment rate. 

Pieper explains the dilemma, “In past historical experience with unemployment rate being as low as it is you would think laborers are in a really good bargaining position, that firms would be competing for workers, firms would be getting really big wage increases, that hasn’t happened.”

Another problem he mentioned that not many put a lot of thought into is automation in the workforce. In other words, machines are replacing people’s jobs. Those people have a direct impact on the unemployment rate. 

“One of the leading causes is that its been increasingly easy to automate many sorts of tasks that workers do so it has been increasingly easy to replace workers with machines,” he said. 

“In the short run they might affect unemployment because you lose your job and it takes you awhile to get a new job,” Pieper said. “You eventually settle on something that isn’t as high paying as you used to. The longer run’s real concern is the effects on the income inequality that comes about from that.” 

In some of the poor neighborhoods of Chicago, there seems to be bigger groups of unemployment. Pieper explains that again, the “discouraged worker” has an effect on people. 

“In the poor areas of the city I’m sure the unemployment [rates]  are higher but the poverty rate is probably even worse because I think in some of the poor areas that’s really where you would get the “discouraged worker” effect, he said. “So you probably have a lot of people without jobs and they have probably given up looking for a job.”

Other factors that contribute to the economic health of a community is not only unemployment but also average income per capita, household crowding, adults in the area without a high school diploma, etc. There are many other aspects to analyze before coming to a conclusion about whether a particular city is economically healthy. Here we can see the drastic differences in income per capita by each community in Chicago, which illustrates that geographical location does impact job opportunities, income, and in turn unemployment rates.

What Can Improve it?

At the national level, Pieper explained that focusing on education would help unemployment rates long-term, rather than a short-term fix with increasing minimum wage. Education hugely impacts the jobs available for people and their wages when working in that job. To see this clearly, the infographic below shows the staggering numbers of how much level of education impacts employment. Another way to improve unemployment rates and better the economy is to make taxes fair for the upper and lower income classes. 

He said, “Have a focus on education, that’s where the higher paying jobs are, there should be more investment in infrastructure, and third thing I think there should also be more focus on trying to lessen income inequality,” he said. “The last major tax bill is actually lowering taxes for the upper income class versus the lower income class.”

According to Pieper, making the lower paying jobs increase their pay would make a difference. As well as helping people’s living situations. 

“Try to make those [low wage] jobs better paying jobs, more of the middle class jobs by lessening the tax burden on those people,” he said.

Interactive Infographic

Top Ten Tallest Skyscrapers in the World

By Kate Cortes

There is an appreciation that comes with architecture, skyscrapers being part of the aesthetically pleasing aspect of architecture. Throughout the years, skyscrapers have been built and ranked based on their stature and features. I made a video of the top ten tallest skyscrapers located in different parts of the world using Google Earth Pro. These buildings are located in Dubai, China, Taiwan, New York City, Seoul, and Saudi Arabia.

The Craft of Illinois Craft Breweries

By Kate Cortes

What a craft brewery is, is a small brewery that makes beer in the traditional way. So it is not made by any mechanized means, hence it being called craft beer. The craft beer is commonly made with malted barley, getting that distinct beer taste.

Beer is a highly consumed product that receives large amounts of revenue. With that, I made an infographic on Venngage of craft brewery information and statistics off of the Brewers Association site, based in Illinois and an overall look in the U.S.

The infographic gives information on the economical impact that craft breweries have had as of 2018, which includes how much money it has gained for the state of Illinois and how much it gained for the U.S in general. It also includes how many operating breweries there are; the overall U.S beer volume and craft brewer sales.

Chicago Public Safety Services

By Kate Cortes

Living near or in the city, it is crucial to have public services nearby if the situation called for it. People would like to have one close by at all times to make access easier, however sometimes it is not as close as they would like it to be.

Here is a map created on Google MyMaps of the locations of police stations and hospital locations throughout Chicago. These locations were taken from the Chicago Data Portal. In total, the map shows 74 hospital locations dispersed throughout the area, as opposed to there being 23 police stations. It seems as if it is easier to run into a hospital than a police station, however some people would not like to travel far to visit a police station.

Google Trends: Vaping Illness Epidemic & the Success of “Joker”

By: Kate Cortes

Recently, there have been cases that have came up about vaping/JUUL related illnesses. E-cigarettes are battery powered devices that heat up oils and liquids that contain nicotine and vaporize it. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave information regarding the nature of the problem, however still mentioned they are not exactly sure yet what is causing the issue. According to them, there have been 26 confirmed deaths in 21 states.

However, with the legalization of marijuana in the state of Illinois coming up, the talk of the plant has become more prevalent lately. This Google Trends graph shows how the scare of the vaping incidents has been put steadily following after the interest of the legalization of cannabis. Both had peaked searches at one point.

Successful Box Office Revenues for New Film, Joker.

Majority of the public were waiting with anticipation for the new film, Joker, which reflects their significant earnings. In within the span of 10 days, the film earned approximately $543.9 million. This Google Trends graph shows the premier for Joker and the increase of the attendance of movie theaters as most of the public headed to theaters around to watch the new depiction of the Joker.

Highest Paid NFL Players

By: Kate Cortes

Football is the first sport that comes to mind when thinking of contact sports. Football players work incessantly to their way to the top and once they do make it, they make it to the National Football League (NFL).

Becoming part of the NFL means much more pay than any regular football team. However, within the NFL, certain players receive different salaries according to which team they are contracted to. As well as what position they play. CBS Sports gives some names and salaries earned by the highest paid players in the NFL, which shows for exactly which team and position they play for.

I created a Google Flourish chart based on data from the highest paid NFL players in the 2019 season. The highest paid football player came out to be Kirk Cousins who is a quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings; a salary of $27,500,000 million.

Top 10 Concert Venues in the Chicago Area

By: Kate Cortes

Chicago is known for being one of the major cities musical artists come to perform at. There are an overwhelming amount of venues and locations to check out for new music and sounds. Chicago being so large and diverse allows the public to have their pick of the litter for what sound catches their fancy.

I have put together just 10 of those concert venues around Chicago. Many are located near or around the city; many are widely known musical venues to many Chicagoans. Check out the list to see where you can have access to new sounds.

Google Trends: Political Leader Scandals, NBC and ABC Competitors

By: Kate Cortes

The 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump is constantly trending. Even more so now with there being a whistleblower complaint made towards President Trump. There has also recently been photos leaked of Justin Tradeau, the Prime Minister of Canada, in brown-face and black-face.

Within the past few days, President Trump has been trending due to a whistleblower, a person who brings unlawful actions within a company or corporation to light. Allegations against Trump are saying that he had a classified conversation with the foreign leader of the Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky; and in that conversation it was said that Trump had wanted him to investigate a certain U.S politic, threatening to withhold resources.

Around the same time, the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Tradeau, has been under scrutiny for 3 photos captured of him in black-face and brown-face dating as far as the 1990’s. He was seen impersonating a black singer and as an Aladdin character for the theme, “Arabian Nights”. Tradeau made a few public apologies for his past behavior, saying how he should have put more thought into it.

However, according to the Google data trends, Trump continues to take the lead in searches. It can be seen in the data spikes in both Trump’s and Tradeau’s trends. Despite the photos of Tradeau and the public anger that followed, Trump’s political indiscretions has most of the attention of the public.

NBC and ABC Steadily Compete

The National Broadcasting Company (NBC), has been leading television network for quite some time. The Columbia Broadcasting Channel (CBS), follows second and the American Broadcasting Company (ABC), hits third. Both NBC and ABC have their highly successful networks; they both are steadily trending against each other.

NBC has taken numbers for their average number of viewers within a year that tune into the broadcasting channel, which came out to be about 7.8 million viewers. They continue to take the lead as top in the charts for their popular channels, this results in a significant amount of money being made for this network. The recent annual revenue this network makes is about $5 billion. It is always trending due to the number of successful shows that develops a large number of viewers; shows that have been around for a long while.

ABC is the third top leading network, with an average number of 1.3 million viewers per year. This would also make a the revenue at about $2 billion annually. This network is one of the most successful networks due to how many viewers tune in to their shows, which like NBC, have been highly successful throughout the years, not to mention that Disney also owns it.

According to the Google trends data, both networks remain in a constant flow of popularity, with few outlying spikes in trending. Of course there was a significant spike with ABC because of the Annual Grammy’s Awards show bringing in thousands of viewers however, what is interesting is how small the spike only came to be and how quickly the trending decreased considering it was an awards show that typically has a large number of viewers. NBC has larger spikes of popularity.

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